- Descendants 106 – The Away Team – Chapter 02
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 10
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 07
- The Descendants 96 – Kill Hope
- The Descendants 97 – Heir of Hyrilius
- The Descendants 98 – The Precocious Prodigy
- The Descendants 99 – Huddled Masses
- The Descendants 100 – Paradigm Shift
- The Descendants 101 – The Battle of Freeland House
- Descendants Special #9 – Outted
- The Descendants 102 – Tales of Consequence
- The Descendants 103 – VIRAL
- The Descendants 104 – Hardcore Fans
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 01
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 02
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 03
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 04
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 05
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 06
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium — Chapter 08
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium Epilogue
- Descendants 106 – The Away Team – Chapter 01
- Descendants #105 – Gal Gallium – Chapter 09
- Descendants 106 – The Away Team – Chapter 03
The Orerry of Worlds has existed since long before the first known species to discover it even arose across the span of stars, explained the blue entity as the newcomers to the Orerry stared at the titular device. It is unknown who or what constructed this place or for what purpose.
Lisa pondered the explanation for a long moment before asking, “If no one knows the purpose of it, why is it important? Why did Hyrilius send me here? Do you know?
I do indeed know. Hyrilius is the one who helped me achieve my final metamorphosis. It is as thanks for this act that I volunteered to wait here for you—no matter how many thousands of years that might take.
“Thousands of years?” Warrick asked, staring at the unfathomable form of the blue thing.
It bobbed in the air. Once my kind has achieved their final metamorphosis, we are all but immortal: unable to physically interact with the world right down to many laws of physics—even the passage of time.
By then, curiosity had gotten the best of Tink. “Your kind. If you don’t mind me asking, what type of creature are you?”
The creature drew into itself reminding the humans present as someone puffing out their chest. I am a mote. Hyrilius gave me the name Rangi Nzuri. It means ‘Good Color’. Before the Manikin, I was one of his assistants. And to answer your question: Hyrilius wanted to bring you here for several reasons:
First, because long before he even found this place, the Orerry had been closed to Maeve and her servants by some mechanism and for some reason none can divine. Second, the Orerry and the knowledge of the planes it offers those who study it cannot be found in the 4 Books. In fact, the Orerry and whatever powers it is something as alien to magic as you believe magic is to science. It is beyond even their influence—which may make all the difference should the one of the Books choose someone sympathetic to Maeve.
“Choose…” Tink repeated thoughtfully. “The books choose people, why?”
To reveal the deeper secrets of magic to. To transform into a sorcerer and to grant their hidden powers to.
Tink glanced to Warrick. “That explains why the Book of Passions seems to be so attached tot he Augustus guy. Yet another thing to look into once we get back.”
Rangi did a lazy loop in the air. This is very true. Forces from the lords and dragons of Faerie to the 4 Books will all take their cues from the emergence of the Heir. Now, we must hurry and I must show you what Hyrilius wanted you to see. Once you entered the Orerry, you set things into motion that cannot be stopped. Most urgent is this: Maeve and her servants will know that someone entered this place from Faerie, and she will act accordingly.
Indeed, deep in the heart of the Bastion Burnal, a chill wind was howling around the great carved sapphire throne of the Queen of Air and Darkness. The mammoth gem was clouded over and in the seat, layers upon layers of frost was piling up, forming an ever-shifting pattern of jagged crystal.
At the foot of the long stair that separated the throne from the rest of the audience chamber, a female form made of frosted over ice bowed its head as Mab-Her-Voice listened intently to the infuriated words only she could fully comprehend.
Her mistress had long ago grown beyond the incredible power she’d lead the entire sidhe species to and surpassed and destroyed even the once-living gods of their homeworld. Maeve was now a literal force of nature; so grand and destructive that she could only allow a fraction of what she was into the Bastion lest she destroy her own servants save Mab-Her-Voice, and every word she uttered held such power that only a creature like Mab-Her-Voice could hope to comprehend.
At length, she raised her head and turned to face five figures standing well back from the throne, their bodies wrapped in heavy furs and cloaks lest the cold of even Maeve’s distant presence suck the heat from their marrow.
“She has sensed movement into the House of Known and Numbered Stars. A Mankind has been on Faerie.”
Even the ancient cold-and-battle-hardened beings attending the Coldest Court started in surprise with a cacophony of noise from many species expressing shock. Even the cloaked forms looked shaken, but managed to stand their ground.
Mab-Her-Voice stared them all down. “She foresaw that this cycle of her return and rule would bring about new opportunity to take the Blue World for herself. She also foresaw that her ancient enemy would have many machinations and schemes to prevent her conquest. That is why she ordered sleepers and scouts to cross between worlds.” Her frozen visage transformed into a hateful glare as behind and above her, the howl of the winds went berserk, shaking the walls.
“Why have none of them returned or reported back?”
After a long moment, one of the cloaked figures stepped forward. Tall and lean, the black eyes that peered out from beneath his cloak marked him as a daoine, particularly one of the Soder people, either High or Low. He spread his arms wide, exposing his heavily clothed body to the frigid air, and bowed low with one leg extended behind him and the other bent at the knee.
“I have scryed the Blue World and her agents upon it multiple times and if I may offer my observations… there are myriad elements contributing to our woes.”
Mab-Her-Voice pointed a clawed finger at him. “They will be your woes alone if your words do not satisfy. Speak on, but know that excuses will only sway her judgment toward harsher ends.”
The daoine settled onto his knees, fulling the cloak close around him. With bowed head, he nodded before saying. “From what I have learned of my scrying, much has changed on the Blue World since the last conflict. Magic is all but unknown the the Mankinds now.”
“This should make them more vulnerable, not less. How is this a complication?”
He swallowed roughly and licked his lips in the arid chill that surrounded him. “It may still prove a vulnerability, but with disuse, the magic has atrophied to a trickle. What exists even now seems to be part of a resurgence. I sensed no magi of appreciable power at any location we sent servants and now sorcerers at all. But… at the same time, the power is so sparse that our forces are utterly incapable of creating a return portal.”
Mab-Her-Voice’s face returned to a neutral mask. “They are not returning or reporting… because they cannot?”
“Without a sorcerer or an artifact of incredible power, it might take years to gather enough energy to return home.”
A rumble from on high indicated Maeve’s lack of happiness with this revelation.
“The other factors?” Mab-Her-Voice demanded.
“Yes… as I said much has changed,” continued the daoine, “And so have the Mankinds. If I may conjure some of the visions I found while scrying? Their defenses are varied and formidable.”
“Show us,” came the terse order.
Once more bowing his head, the daoine extended his hands and conjured an image into the air. It depicted a fortress of some sort with dozens if not hundreds of windows lit from within. It was surrounded by a fence of contiguous, white stone topped with coils of metal.
Outside that wall, creeping toward the gate built into it, was a creature whose features resembled something between a naked human man and a large, hairless dog, its body misshapen as if through terrible trauma though it moved with above average agility and no signs of injury.
Before it even managed to get within one hundred feet of the gate, a whirring buzz could be heard and a bright light fell over it from above, throwing it into sharp relief. Its head snapped up and it snarled as a voice came from the same area as the light.
“The speaker is saying, ‘you there. Stop where you are. You are trespassing in a secure area. Get on the ground, hands behind your head’.” The daoine translated steadily.
In the image, the creature dodged out of the light with incredible speed, but the light tracked it unerringly despite deft and erratic movements to avoid it. Then it stopped trying and turned toward the direction of the gate. Its muscles tensed and it hurled itself forward. The light tracked it as it barreled into a trio of figures in bulky clothing carrying long, compact-looking devices in both hands.
It struck one of them and took ti to the ground, but savage claws couldn’t seem to get through the cloth. As it tried it hardest to dig into the fallen Mankind’s chest, one of them raised their device, aimed it at the creature’s center of mass, and a moment later, the creature’s chest blossomed into red and orange gore, knocking it back and opening up space between it and its would-be victim.
Others followed suit, using their strange implements to blow more holes in the monster’s chest, upper arms and finally head, sending it crashing to the ground in an inert heap.
The daoine raise his eyes to Mab-Her-Voice. “This servant’s species is known to be quick, agile and able to withstand damage that would annihilate one of my kind. It would take at least a dozen of our rank and file soldiers to bring one down and they would lose half their number. Three Mankinds, guards by their garb and placement, were able to slay it without a single casualty. And this is not an isolated incident.”
Once more, he conjured moving images. First, a hulking ogre being struck from the side by something the exploded into a plume of fire, dust and shrapnel that easily blew open its rib cage, felling it. Then, a musclebound jackal-headed beast finding itself cornered in an open-air corridor of brick and mortar being disabled by darts launched from more compact devices with tubes protruding from them. Said darts caused the creature to spasm violently and collapse, rendering it easy prey for the strangely garbed Mankinds that bound its wrists in the painful bonds of thin steel manacles.
It continued, showing a daoine being dispatched by some form of gas attack emitted from a black cylinder in a Mankind’s hand shortly after he leapt over a fence. He went down clutching his face, unable to think to use whatever magic he knew in time to save him from being wrestled to the ground and bound. Another managed to drain the heat from and slay a hound of some sort before being struck by an invisible force that hurled him ten feet to come crashing to the ground prone and broken.
Save for the violent winds around Maeve’s throne, silence ruled the chamber both from those specifically summoned and the Coldest Court.
Into that silence the daoine spoke again. “This, however, is not my greatest concern. These weapons, while powerful, appear to be little more than crude means of moving force around. With study, they can be easily overcome by magic. However, in rare cases, I have observed the Mankinds displaying power that rivals magic—but is not magic.”
He raised his hand and wiped away the images he’d created earlier, replacing them with a new one: this one showing many towers of stone and glass, each one easily taller than the Bastion itself. A causeway of smooth, black stone with yellow markings stretched between them, upon which sat a number of oddly-shaped carts and many panicking people.
In places, the causeway had been torn open and issued flames and smoke. But looking beyond that, those assembled could see something that left them in awe. One of the buildings had crumbled somewhere near the top, but its fragments weren’t falling—or at least they were falling very slowly, each piece encased in an aura of green light.
Floating high above the adjacent causeway, also encased in green light, was a female Mankind with long, flowing brown hair, who guided the falling debris with deft motions, sifting through it while still in air and extracting other Mankinds from what otherwise would have been their graves with the care of a mother with her newborn.
Mab-Her-Voice leaned in close to the image, squinting. “What am I seeing?”
“From what I could gather, the ground in this city experienced a tremor—a powerful one that nonetheless, most of these towers survived unscathed. Only this one began to fail. When it did, that female arrived an unleashed a power that eclipses any telekinesis known in Faerie aside from that of some dragons. If any army of even elite daoine warriors encountered her—”
A shiver ran through Mab-Her-Voice and her eyes lit with a cold, white light that reflected throughout her icy body, making her glow. “THEY WOULD BE DESTROYED.”
The voice wasn’t Mab-Her-Voice’s. It was forceful to the point that it vibrated the hearts of all within the Bastion and imprinted itself upon their brains irrevocably. It was the voice of a storm; impersonal, unforgiving, and unwavering.
The daoine immediately dropped to his hands and knees. “Y-yes, my Queen. That is what my assessment says.
With the rest of her face showing shock and even some level of helpless horror, Mab-Her-Voice continued to speak in the voice of a goddess. “IF MANKIND HAS GROWN SO POWERFUL THAT COMMON WARRIORS CANNOT HOPE TO DEFEAT THEM, WE REQUIRE AN UNCOMMON FORCE. MUNDUS OF THE SMOKEHORN MOUNTAINS, KALGATHI OF THE HIHG SODER; STEP FORWARD.”
Two more cloaked figures stepped forward. The first, a tall, broad beast, threw aside its cloak as it bowed, baring its arms, which were made of thick, black plates that cracked in places to reveal molten orange flesh beneath. A set of stark, white spines ran from the top of its bald pate down its back, poking out of its thick fur vest, and when he spoke with a bow, his teeth were revealed to be a pair of serrated glass-like ridges.
“The demons of he Smokehorn Fortresses renew their pledge to she who rules afar from the Air and Darkness. Whatever is asked of us, we shall strive to achieve,” He spoke in a surprisingly smooth, quiet voice. His bow was low enough that his forehead touched the ground.
The other figure lifted its hood, allowing copious long, silken black hair to spill down around his shoulders. His jaw was wide and firm and his eyes, unlike some of the other daoine species, had white scalera with magenta irises. A pair of spectacles made from glass and highly polished and shellacked wood perched on his nose.
“The elves of High Soder, in their multitude within your great realm, renew their pledge to she who rule afar from the Air and Darkness. My Our Queen’s Command by our highest law.”
Mab-Her-Voice slowly turned her head to regard them in turn with her cool-burning gaze. “AND YET BOTH OF YOUR PLOT IN SECRET TO RISE ABOVE YOUR STATION. THE DEMONS HAVE LONG WISHED TO BREED DAEMON HOSTS WITH GREATER INHERENT ABILITIES WHILE THE HIGH SODER HAVE FOR YEARS RAIDED AND STOLE THE CHILDREN OF THE DEMONS TO BOND INTO THEIR FLESH TO RECLAIM A FRACTION OF WHAT IT IS TO BE SIDHE.”
Both leaders did their best not to tremble at those accusations and failed.
“I HAVE ALLOW BOTH OF THESE SMALL BETRAYALS. THEY HAVE CAUSED YOUR KIND TO LIVE IN FEAR OF DISCOVERY FOR GENERATIONS, WHICH PLEASES ME. BUT I HAVE ALSO FORESEEN THAT THESE ENDEAVORS MIGHT ONE DAY BE A BOON TO ME. THAT DAY HAS COME. YOU ARE BOTH COMMANDED TO MAKE ME AN ARMY OF YOUR NEW CREATIONS.”
Kalgathi was the first to dare point out the obvious. “My Queen, the numbers we can produce are limited by how many demonic young we can capture.”
Mab-Her-Voice cut off any more excuses with: “WHYEVER SHOULD YOU NEED TO CAPTURE MORE. BOTH OF YOU NOW SERVE AT MY PLEASURE. DO NOT TELL ME THAT THE DEMONS AND THE DAOINE DO NOT BOTH HAVE MANY UNDESIRABLES AMONG THEM WHOSE LOSS WOULD ENRICH THEIR PEOPLE. GATHER THEM UP. TRANSFORM THEM. TRAIN THEM. THEN I WILL SEND THEM TO THE BLUE AS MY WITCH LEGION. I HAVE NO CARE WHETHER THY SURVIVE, ONLY THAT THEY SLAY HUMANS BEFORE THEY DIE.”
She raised one hand and clenched it, the fiery glow of Maeve’s possession making her fist shine like the heart of a star. “i WANT TO SEE THE TOWERS OF THE MANKINDS TOPPLED AND THIER GREAT POWERS BROKEN AND SCATTERED ACROSS ALL WORLDS.”
End Heir of Hyrilius (Find Out What Happens To Out Heroes Next Issue!).