“Hold,” instructs the Obrille barracks commander. A row of archers remain steely as vespires soar en masse over the town, arrows nocked and ready to fly. The Ancient, above them all, nearly obscured the crack, if only for a moment.
Nothing like this had happened since the great war-- an Ancient this close to Obrille was unheard of. Trained eyes follow the path, plan the trajectory-- hold… hold… hold… relax. The shadows pass over and continue on. A breath of relief passes through the crowd as the commander gives the all clear.
They’re only passing through.
“Hell above!” a Goldfair farmer exclaims, gesturing frantically at the crater in the middle of his field. “What am I supposed to do about this? It’s too late to sow another harvest, and this won’t yield nearly enough!”
The other farmers nod and murmur sympathetically. Avalon bumps shoulders with the afflicted pouflon companionably. “Now, we won’t let ya starve, so don’tcha worry. Let’s take a look at the big ol’ smoking thing, see if we can salvage anything.”
The group tentatively picks their way through the ruined field, closer to the smoldering crater at its center. The others chattered amongst themselves as Avalon rolled a bit of hay in her mouth, doing her best to smile. They’d take care of each other, alright, but that didn’t mean they were okay.
The crater was about the size of a barn. Heat still rolled off it as if impact had happened moments ago, when in reality it had been there for several hours. The farmers inch forward, peering down with trepidation at the contents…
...And there’s nothing there. Aside from charred dirt and smoke, nothing. Avalon’s brows furrow as the others stare. The chatter begins again, incredulous this time. What could have created a hole this size? Had it burned up already? What were they supposed to do now?
“I’ll check it out,” Avalon volunteers after a few minutes of bickering. “Go get a wheelbarrow, we’ll get what we can out and then fill this sucker up for ya.”
The headstrong plucky was already picking her way carefully down the crumbling slope as the group dispersed, each returning home for the necessary tools. It was hot as hell in the crater, and it stank too, like char and sulfur. “Be careful,” one of the others called before retreating from the lip.
“I’m always careful,” Avalon cheerfully shouts over her shoulder before delving into the smoke.
By the time the other farmers returned, the smoke had nearly cleared.
And Avalon was gone.
On the far coast of the Ebony Wreath, a treasure hunter follows the lines in the sky to their logical end. He’d been tracking it since the night before. Something had fallen here, he was absolutely sure of it.
Oh, others had gathered in Banelaire. They flocked as one because they were unsure, edgy, afraid. Not Axel. He’d be the one to solve this-- he was absolutely sure of it. Was it for glory? Prestige? Simply putting things back how he found them? Ha! It’s for the thrill of it, don’t you see? Ancient history was fascinating, but this moment would be history soon enough, and Axel planned to make sure he was part of it.
“It has to be around here somewhere,” the vespire mutters to himself, scanning the shore for what felt like the hundredth time. “I know it’s here…”
The vespire grumbles, rising on a gust of wind before angling himself down. Perhaps a closer look-- it should have created a crater, but he hadn’t seen anything of the sort. When stars fell, they always left a mess…
Wait! Something glimmering! He banks hard, circling the area as he descends. A part of the shore flashes intermittently, drawing him in like a lighthouse
He lands lightly on the sand, reorienting himself and searching for the object. It was right here, where…
“Ah, there you are…” the vespire almost purrs, tail coiling as he approaches a gleam on the sand. The closer he gets, the harder it is to perceive-- and it was no wonder he hadn’t recognized it before. Like a bit of glass, but so much flatter. It almost had no substance at all.
Axel stands over the piece of sky, looking deep into clouds where they didn’t belong. He can’t wrap his mind around it, something with depth but no mass. It reflects the weather above, seemingly so fragile that a breath might disturb it.
“Amazing…” the vespire exhales, craning his head up to look at the sky, then back down again. Like a mirror, but with no end. Hesitatingly, he reaches out a claw to grasp it…
And he disappears.
The tide rolls in, swallowing the prints he’d left on the sand.
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