The Plummeting Ascension

Ch.9 Dead Rabbits and Good Fortune

     Julius leapt from the cab of the hover jeep down to the ground long before it safely set itself down. He was nauseated from the bumpy ride and wanted nothing more at that moment than to be on safe, solid ground. The sky was darkening, and the air was icy, the day had been left behind during the hours long pursuit by a mad man with no intention of wasting his opportunity for freedom.

“uhm, sir… what are we going to do from here?”

“grab brush and branches and do as I say.” He hissed in a dangerous tone as he unfolded a tarp from the bed of the jeep and began covering the vehicle. In no time he had the jeep covered and they had begun throwing snow and debris over the tarp to camouflage their stolen transportation. Like an artist he directed the flow of debris until it was perfect. Stepping back Julius thought it looked like a tarp with mud and junk thrown on it. But the farther back he went the more invisible their location became! Julius ran back after gazing at the fruits of their hard work for a while,

“why are we stopping? We can make it to a city in just a few more hours?” Julius complained through chattering teeth. The temperature was plummeting as the sun went farther and farther below the horizon.

“they’ll be expecting us to enter a city immediately, we have no supplies and no safe reprieve from potential demon attacks out in the open like this. So, we are going to camp for the next few days and let their red alert diminish.” Julius looked at his capture with a bewildered, blank expression. There were demons out here? He always knew that but the realization of being outside the safety of a domed city without military support nearby to defend them was sobering.

“You mean, we’re going to be out here for days at the mercy of demons?” Sir Beleaguer laughed for the first time since he had slaughtered all those prison guards.

“no, you will be! I will be just fine out here. In fact, if you know how to survive outside a city like that…” He pointed at the fading silhouette of the great dome, “then you learn to prefer life away from a city, cities are just mass conglomerates of stupid livestock ready for the harvesting after all. Super cities are just cesspools of inbred, ignorant city rats and cowards! Those are places I hate the most in this world!” Julius didn’t quite know what to say to that, he just took a seat under the tarp and shivered quietly. Sir Beleaguer kept his prison garb on but dug through the jeep for first aid goods to treat his wounds. They weren’t serious but camping out in the open, even a papercut if left untreated could become infected and induce illness.

Once his wounds were treated he began gutting the electronics of the jeep pulling out the radio and Holophone technology and smashing it all to bits. If the police and military units got a hit off any of the communication equipment they would be found in a heartbeat. Sir Beleaguer explained to Julius through the frost that long ago this had been lush and vast forest, thick and brimming with life but after the twelve years siege, and the Mages rebellion the lands had been purged. Burned to a crisp to open the view and create a gigantic killing field around each of the domed mega cities. The land was vast, flat, and frozen with just a handful of tree thickets here and there. Guard units hadn’t been by to burn them in a while, or at least that’s what Beleaguer had said.

Sir Beleaguer spoke of the twelve years siege with an almost nostalgic fondness, his eyes glistened in the moonlight with a sort of glee at the remembrance of so much death and bloodshed.

“You see boy, the Twelve Years Siege was brought about by Atlantis moving preemptively, and the bad leadership on your people’s part perpetuated and elongated the onslaught. Your emperor at that time pissed on his allies and spat in one too many of his enemies faces. He set himself up for foreseeable disaster and did nothing to prevent it. Instead he spent billions and billions on manufacturing mega war machines that ended up failing within four years of the war. Machines so huge they could be felt moving from miles away. Atlantis responded in kind by bringing out their endless legions lead by great god beings to crush the resistance.

Julius jumped as howls echoed off in the distance, werewolves were real? Sir Beleaguer cackled and waved his hands with a harsh whisper. A shimmer of light flowed over them both and it was suddenly silent again. The starlight now warbled over head as an unseen force encased them.

“what was that?”

“A werewolf, and a sheltering barrier spell” Julius looked around feeling less cold than before.

“why didn’t you do that before?”

“because it was fun to watch you struggle, I truly didn’t think that you were this helpless!” he smiled and looked up to the stars before continuing with his story. “These mega machines were said to be the end all be all, shock and awe machines but without the proper magical protections they became worthless and were stolen and turned against your people.” He laughed and beamed at Julius with such genuine glee, Julius could only listen with disgust as he described the thousands of people that starved to death and the thousands more that were crushed by the might of these gargantuan war machines.

The night was long and even more cold with his captors pale eyes burrowing into his soul, Julius could do nothing but stay huddled inside the invisible tent. The tarp was hardly any help, with the snow thrown over it, it radiated cold and dripped water making everything even more miserable!

“So, how did we win the war if it was that bad?” Julius asked after a long while.

“well, the Strata-Terian Ghost army stepped in for the sake of preserving human life and ended the war for your people within the same week they started. That week was wonderful, so much carnage and bloodshed!” He looked at Julius, “It was glorious! The Twilight empire needed our assistance less than your idiotic people did.”

“wait, Strata-Teria? You mean Skyland? Why did they wait so long to step in? You sound like you were actually there for it all…”

“Yes boy, Skyland. They try not to interfere with small human matters, Human business is human business and that’s all. They deal with the matters of the immortal and stop their plots from harming the mortals of this world. Skyland only cares about big business, demon movements and the machinations of Gods and Immortal Intelligences.” Julius looked on in total confusion,

“They are the Vanguard of the world boy, and spear head the fight against the endless armies of Atlantis. Your people’s siege was a petty dispute with neighbors that they finally got sick of watching. Atlantis started the violence but after they were pushed back your people used the excuse to siege other territories and claim more land and resources as tribute for their efforts in the Atlantean invasion. People fought back and Skyland bowed out of the affair for about a decade.”

“But I thought, the fight against Atlantis was hopeless? And why do you know so much about Skyland and the Ghost Army?”

“For worms like you and your people, the fight is hopeless! But Skyland has been fighting Atlantis for three hundred years and counting, and we… they… are only getting stronger! And why you ask? Because I was once one of the phantoms of the Ghost Army! I was on the battlefield that week your hides were saved from being buried!” Julius gasped as the knight sneered at him.

“why… why are you not still one of them?” Julius squeaked out with a half-frozen voice.

“Because I wanted to test my skill against the champions of the Gods, but the Lord Martial declined my request because I was unfit to represent his best and finest. I wasn’t elite, champion material.” He spat on the cold ground and growled with rage. “Screw that! I am the best of the best!” Julius coward in the dirt as the mad man flew into a blind rage.

“The Gods… you act as if they are real!” Julius shouted desperately hoping to change topic. Which worked because he quieted down and sat back in his frost devoid spot.

“of course, they are boy, many of them are working against humanity, or use humans as pawns to play their games for power and position with other immortals. Some are allied with Skyland but not many. The people of Skyland wish to take this world back from demon and supernatural kind for the sake of humanity.” He paused a moment for Julius to take it all in, his frosty grey cloud breath clung to the invisible ceiling of the tent.

“It doesn’t matter what pantheon it is, Skyland is kicking them off the planet if they prove to be a nuisance. It’s a fight for saving what is left of this once beautiful world, but non-skylanders are stupid and frail, and few powers have joined the fight to stand with Skyland. Your country being one of the most fickle, and infirm!” Julius grew quiet,

“once beautiful?”

“The world was once beautiful, and demon free. But it was destroyed by man. Over ten billion humans died off over the course of ten years during the pinnacle of human advancement, triggering the return of magic. It was a Darkmatter war that shook the world so hard the tectonic plates shifted. The number of dead all at once released so much energy that even the continent of Atlantis returned. That was… over eleven hundred years ago now.” he sighed, “the war must have been beautiful!”

“What’s Dark matter, and if it was that long ago, how is the date only 423 A.A.?”

“A type of now extinct warhead, capable of breaking apart and dissolving anything held together by darkmatter, which is everything made of matter.” He said in a flat voice with a grotesque smile, “It was said that the warheads wouldn’t cause a winter effect like nuclear bombs, but the force of darkmatter warheads dwarfed everything imaginable. They literally reshaped the geography of the planet causing mountains to rise and fall thousands of feet all at once!” He took a deep breath in as if trying to smell the carnage, “Also, it was 423 years ago that we humans were finally able to correspond with other human civilizations around the world and agree upon a year to start from.”

“how come that’s not taught in our schools?”

“Are you kidding? Up until one hundred eighty years ago most of your people were kept illiterate by your precious Emperor! You gotta take baby steps kid. Your tiny brains aren’t ready for this kind of history. All you need to know is that after that war, the fabric of time and space ripped apart thanks to the darkmatter! Demons, angels, Gods of good and evil, and hundreds of millions of other nasties came pouring through into this world swarming like endless clouds of locusts!” Julius gawked in horror at the story being painted before his eyes with words as black and bitter as octopus ink assaulting his ears. There was a long pause as the sky broke from deep somber purple to a frosty grey-gold dawn. His breath plumed in the icy winter air and his eyes looked ghoulish in the dim silvery golden light.

“Just so you know, It’s a misnomer that A.A. stands for ‘after apocalypse’ it actually means ‘ascended from ashes’ and is meant to remind all humanity that even on the verge of extinction, humanity can overcome and prevail.” He glared at Julius whose eyes glistened with inspiration, “I am a natural selection kinda guy myself, and think more of humanity should have died out. Not all of the human stupidity gene was weeded out.”


Baron Symeteure worked feverishly inside the doctor’s office looking for just the right forms to have filled out and signed off on. The body lay motionless in his big plush chair as the Necromancer, using the doctor’s fingers, scrolled through holo image after holo image of documents meant for granting freedom and passing psychological evaluation to the inmates. The glowing images flickered in the dark room and the Baron smiled as he found what he was looking for. He began filling out each of the forms and used the doctors cooling body to place the signatures needed to make each document official.

Six documents in all were filled out and signed, all pertaining to Julius and his passing evaluations as a reformed mental patient, confirmation of his indoctrinated loyalty to the state and permission granting forms to attend the Arcane Academy, as well as government assistance forms requesting a pension be paid to the orphaned client. The Baron was no computer expert but with the barrowed fingers of the doctor he could manage just fine, each of the fingers remembering passwords and protocol needed to navigate the Holo technology.

“Alright boy, leev a good life man! En try ta stay outta trouble from heer on out!”

“I see, so this is what you had in mind for freeing the boy. But I wonder, where are your documents? Or do you not need documents to set you free Mr. Necromancer?” The Barons body stiffened in shock as the voice came from seemingly nowhere.

“I’m behind you Mr. Necromancer… or am I here?… or here?” the voice rattled on and on in echoes all over the room. Hissing like a snake before it strikes to kill. The Barons eyes darted to and fro trying to locate the origin. “I gathered that you like to play hide and seek Mr. Necromancer, so now… your it!” The Barons eyes widened in shock but he darted over the desk and rolled to the side as w wind blasted the office door ripping it off the hinges and ripping it to splinters. sparks erupted in the air as spells backlashed and reverberated off of one another, the walls filled with mold and the carpet oozed and crept with maggots then all burst into flame and ash and the room was as it had been before. Black clouds billowed like streams of water from a fire hose out of the Barron’s hands, the black fog washed over the room clinging to everything. Calming his heart rate and breathing the Dark Giant hummed a cadence that he dance to and kept rhythm to as he watched for movement in the sea of black fog. The fog rumbled and warbled and the Barron blocked an incoming strike, firing back a counter strike at where the movement was going to. An explosion later and the room vented the fog through a gaping hole in the wall. Green light blitzed forth from strange angles cutting walls to shreds as the Barron ducked and dodged. Spinning around to meet a presence his keen senses alerted him too he struck out with great spiked fist, a shockwave blasted forth sending loose paper flying and cracking glass as two fists collided like asteroids impacting the moons surface. a great dark force hunched in the room could barely fit under the ceilings, dwarfing the Barron completely. The great fist pressed ever down with crushing force on the unyielding man. In a blir of shadows and light and sparks the Barron blinked as both of his arms from the shoulder sockets down dropped to the ground. Sitting on what was left of the mahogany desk in the room was a dark hooded figure shrunken down to more human proportions and twirling a fine stogy in his fingers.

“Boo! Are you scared?” The man laughed a jolly laugh as the Baron tried to regain composure, but the pain was so great it was all he could do to stand. “I will allow you three questions before I kill you.” The Baron screamed, finally giving into the pain and fell back against the nearest wall to support his wait, refusing to kneel before this monster.

“Me know yee mon…. ya bee de blue-eyed devil mambo always…. warned da children bout in da village eh?” His eyes were fogged with tears of agony, it was almost impossible to catch his breath.

“Possibly, but what’s that to you? Or, are you going to use a freebee on this question?” the man puffed his cigar slowly and deliberately blew the smoke at the baron.

“Will ya swear ta answer dem honestly no matta da question?”

“Think of my word as being as good as your religions Barron Kriminel.” He paused to gaze into the hate filled eyes of his victim.

“Yes, you have a deal. It would be my pleasure to tell you the truth! Hell, I’ll be nice since the good doctor here spilled so much information, My name is Don Refi’Cul of Lone Star city, and I am a demon Lord. The means I am the acting god in and controller of my own plain of hell.” He smiled, and his thumb burst into flames, he then re-lit his cigar off of his thumb and puffed the sweet Tabaco like it was the nectar of the gods. His piercing blue eyes glowed brighter than the flickering holo screens in the dim room as he licked his flaming thumb and put out the fire.

“what will ya do wif da boy now?”

“Question one, I will brake him of course! Nothing you could do could have ever changed that. I need that boy as a vessel for part two of my great plan. His face will become synonymous with mass genocide very soon.”

“Why dat boy? Why heem?”

“Question 2… are you sure? Isn’t there something you’re just dying to ask me about? In two hundred years of wandering this earth and you’ve never encountered any mysteries you’d like answers too?” The Baron gritted his teeth,

“Wha ‘appened to me wife?” he muttered, and the hooded man spoke so frankly and matter-oh-fact that his words came off as cold and crass.

“2: I seduced her while you were out to sea and had a wonderful affair with her, placed a demon curse of despair upon her and left her in fear of being pregnant.” The Baron looked furious,

“She wasn’t of course, but that was just part of the fun. She took a couple weeks but eventually she gave into the curse and she jumped off the cliff she swore she would wait for you on.” He laughed,

“as if that would make up for all the things she did for me while you were away…” he winked at the Baron before continuing,

“you know, I have had victims resist the demon curse of despair for decades, she by far was one of the easiest targets I have ever had the pleasure of burying.” The Baron roared and pushed off the wall. He planted his enormous foot in the hooded man’s face. The cigar exploded on the impact and the desk cracked and fell apart, but the man stayed hovering in the same spot he had been sitting in as the desk fell away from his body.

“You know, that was extremely rude! You Necromancers really are socially inept in relation to the living!” The Baron fell to the ground, he could do nothing to stop the bleeding, his power had been pushed to the absolute breaking point and he was exhausted. Slowly he faded in and out of consciousness. The man took another stogy from his cloak and lit it and replaced the dead cigar with the new one. The Baron glared at the hooded figure,

“Oh I’m sorry, would you like one? Here… take it…” He held out a large fresh stogy and laughed.

“I know how you voodoo practitioners just love a good cigar and a bottle of spiced rum!” He waved a hand and a bottle of spiced rum appeared caked in sand. He set the cigar and bottle of rum down next to each other.

“This vintage is a Royal Reserve, January 1st 1700 A.D. Long, long before the end of the world.” He chuckled,

“If I recall, this one was one of two hundred made to commemorate the East India Trade companies one-hundred-year anniversary. Good year, so many wars were fought in that century. So much slaughter, it was beautiful really.” He pretended to wipe away a tear.

“why, deed ya do eet?”

“What… the rum, or your wife?” He inquired with a clear and inquisitive voice.

“Why did you hurt her?”

“Question 3, because you are special to me…” He placed his hands above his heart, “and I wanted to make sure you couldn’t use those damn lovers’ rings to escape from me!” He paused and looked over his stogy at the ring-less Baron.

“In case you didn’t know those rings can take the wearer to wherever the other ring holder is in the world. Meaning there is no way to trap one if the other is free somewhere else. I can’t have you, who I have watched for so long, go and escape from me with such ease. You caught my eye when you were twelve years of age. You were the most talented student of Mambo, dare I say ever. And like Julius, you are so very special, but since I cant have you I can’t let you get strong enough to become a thorn in my side. So now, I’m going to eat your soul. It was a good chat though.” He slid off the nonexistent desk surface and walked to the Barons half dead body. He dug his fingers into the baron’s eyes and both bodies, the Barons and the partially rubble covered corps of the doctor glowed for a moment. Then, the Barons body slowly began to disintegrate to ash as the hooded figure stood up,

“that is so unusual!” he said in a mumble to himself.

“H.T.P. send documents!”

“Yes Doctor, sending Documents… Documents sent!” Don Refi’Cul turned to look at the doctors now standing body, it smiled.

“well den Mr. Refi’Cul, looks like me win dis round afta all eh?” The hooded man’s eyes grew huge as he looked at the body,

“that’s not possible! I devoured your soul!” Refi’Cul growled

“no man… ya ate the doctors’ no mine, me no tink me would escape here alive so me shielded me own soul wit his. Now yah can’t bring eem back, your toy bee gone en I still be free like the winds of the Caribbean! Ya killed me, but me still wins!” the body dropped to the floor and the Baron was gone in a wisp of whole hearted laughter along with the bottle of rum and stogy layed out for him earlier.

“well played Baron well played.” He puffed on his cigar and admired the carnage left in the Barons wake.


Julius woke with a fright from his nap that afternoon, dreams of giant death machines and his grandparents caught up in the waves of war haunted his thought. They survived the twelve years siege only to die from some random demon attack, an attack that they should have been safe from! Julius shrugged, his hand hurt like thousands of knives stabbing into his bones. Looking at his hand he realized the coral ring saying ‘his’ was around his left ring finger and he had no recollection of putting it on. Oh well, maybe he did while he was asleep? He wrapped his cold fingers around the ring and pulled, but the ring didn’t so much as budge. The ring saying ‘hers’ was still dangling from the small chain which was now around his neck. Julius thought as the fog of deep sleep wore off and he could think more clearly. He had no recollection of ever having the Barons rings at all! Panic set in as he tried to pull the ring off again, but the knuckle of his finger popped before the ring even remotely budged. A ghostly messenger bird chirped happily and then vanished in a wisp of mist as the wind picked up light snow powder.

“ouch! What the hell?” Julius complained under his breath. The rings had a calm and friendly aura about them, Julius wanted to be scarred but having something of his friend put some of the pain of loss in his heart at ease. Julius tried once more to pull the ring off before he was startled by the blue-eyed masked man who threw several bloody rabbit carcasses at his face.

“I caught’em, you skin and clean’em.” Julius looked from the bodies to the mad man,

“You want me to what?” the man whom had just taken a seat stood up in a threatening way.

“Do it now!” his susurrus voice prickled the hair on the back of Julius’ neck. He then stormed off and began collecting snow in an empty water bottle. Julius stared at the dead rabbits

“what do I do with these?” The man stopped and looked at the confused boy.

“Seriously… You worthless peace of trash you can’t even skin and clean a rabbit? Fine I’ll do mine and you can watch but you’d better learn fast kid, or I’ll just have to put you out of my misery!” Julius gulped nervously as the man strutted over and picked up one of the limp creatures. Julius watch carefully and quietly as the man-made quick work of the rabbit, skinning and gutting it he left the ears on the body to be funny. He handed the naked body to the dazed boy who looked somewhat confused.

“I can’t eat this! It’s… meat.”

“Fine, starve you fool! Just means more food for me!” He laughed and began walking towards the woods nearby.

“If a fox gets one of them, you go hungry not me, if animals get them both, I’ll kill and eat you! Either way, I’m not going hungry got it!” Julius nodded vigorously, he truly had no intention of testing the mad man’s resolve.

He sighed, looking at his animal.

“It’s not human… It’s not human!” his stomach growled, and he skinned and gutted the animal as was shown stopping every now and then to cry as he continually cut himself in the process. Ten minutes later and he held up the pelt to compare with Sir Beleaguers’, the difference was stifling, Julius’ pelt looked like it had been run through a shredder while the mad mans was perfect. He returned with full canteens of water, bark and sticks.

“Here, take this. The first one is on me after that you fill your own or die.” He dropped the wood at Julius’ feet along with the bottle of fresh water and took up the carcass of his rabbit in exchange then began muttering something under his breath. There was a spark and a small seed appeared in his hand, he stuck it through the snow and into the cold wet earth beneath it. He waved his hand over the spot and muttered something else. Within moments a green sprout popped up from under the snow, small and leafy it sprung from the ground with great gusto and began waving in the cold winters breeze.

“Oh wow! That’s so amazing! How did you do that? Can you teach me how to do that?” He plucked it from the ground with venomous force just as Julius began smiling and laughing.

“Magic, and no” he replied to the questions with a harsh coldness.

“no, you can’t teach me or no you won’t?” Julius inquired honestly and the glare he got in response was sharp enough to cut throats. Julius changed the subject by asking,

“well, what’s next boss?”

“You cook it.” And he gestured to Julius’ rabbit. “I don’t care if you eat it raw but when you get sick I’ll just leave you behind.” Julius looked to the pile of wood and back at his captor.

“You mean you won’t just kill me?”

“Why would I kill you if you’re sick boy? What kind of kind hearted person do you take me for? I’d leave you to suffer boy!” He laughed and pointed at the wood on the ground.

“You got a lighter?” Beleaguer rolled his eyes, he set his rabbit in the snow for a moment and walked to the jeep. Light flashed from the side of the jeep and heat filled their invisible shelter. Julius sighed as the heat felt so good! Beleaguer pulled a piece of red hot metal from the side of the jeep about six inches by six inches and began shaping it in his hands. Julius watched as the man made a makeshift camping bowl. He tossed it into a pile of deep snow to cool before Julius could touch off kindling to it. Julius frowned at his captor who smiled through his cloth face mask. He rummaged through the back of the jeep and came up with a bag of sidewalk salt to melt ice, and a bottle of bleach which was used for killing any new sprouting foliage the guards would come across on patrols. He put the salt in the bowl and muttering something strange he snapped his fingers and sparks flew when Julius looked again it was a glob of putty instead of the rock salt from before.

“What is that?”

“Pure sodium” he replied flatly as he took some from the bowl and threw it at Julius’ wet feet. He jumped and yelped as it popped and put a hole in his shoe.

“ouch you jerk what was that for!” Julius lay still in his pile of wood as the mad man giggled like a school girl.

“you’re ignorant, I’m teaching you.” He said with a chuckle. Whipping away a tear from laughing he poured the bleach into the bowl. Sir Beleaguer mixed and mixed until the substance began crystalizing in the hot metal bowl. Adding more heat as needed with his bare hand alone.

“what is that? What are you doing?”

“You poor, retched, ignorant thing! I am using magic to extract chlorine from the hypochlorite in this bleach and adding it to pure sodium… I’m making sodium chloride with magic… pure table salt.” Julius simply watched in amazement saying nothing more.

“you know, I learned earth magic when I was very young, and it has never proven more useful to me then when I’m intrenched in the field during winter.” He shredded the leafy plant and put it into the crystals crunching the mix together. Beleaguer then chanted and waved his hand over the bottle of water. His eyes glittered as he smelled the liquid before he poured a carefully measured some of the contents into the bowl, the liquid that came out was a deep royal red, almost the color of blood. He mixed the contents of the bowl with the meat, took a deep breath and a bolt of bright heat flashed and cooked the meat in seconds. Julius could smell mint and a sweet fruity aroma. His mouth watered as he watched Beleaguer enjoy every tantalizing bite. Julius held his rabbit out to Beleaguer hoping he’d be nice and do the same. But he began laughing hysterically and slapping his knee. Once he finished jeering at Julius he said in a lively voice while still giggling,

“Learn to make a fire and cook food in the field without magic or die before you can learn magic!”

“You know, white wine is supposed to be had with rabbit.” Julius said in a sneer.

“You are absolutely right!” He took a long swig from the bottle and dumped the remaining contents onto the pile of once dry sticks and kindling before walking off. He rolled his face mask back down, “I’d better go make some or I won’t be able to fully enjoy my delicious meal!” Julius stood in his once triumphant spot now completely deflated.

“but if I can’t make a fire I’ll starve to death!”

“Yes, you most certainly will boy.”

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