Vol 2 – Chapter 39: The Ancient Ruins
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Sergent Batey quickly gathered his men together as they landed on the drop point. He stood taller than most of his men with wide shoulders and the start of a big belly. He had twenty years on most of his men who looked like children to him. He had a thick cigar between his teeth as he called out, "Ok you bums, get that radio up and running, scouts get me some recon, I want to know if we have locals."

One of the men called out, "Sarge, I have contact with Alpha One. They advised we need to secure any useful materials we can find, books, drawings, anything with writing on it. They have some specialists on the way. They will be coming up by the next drop along with the supplies."

Sergent Batey frowned and puffed out a cloud of smoke, "Johnson, take your unit and find some high ground. I want snipers up on those rooftops. We'll find a building and use that as our command center. We have officers inbound, they'll want a nice clean dry place to keep their uniforms tidy. Johnson, if you find a flagpole, raise ol' guts n glory." He pointed to the Bromanian flag, which was a red and white striped flag with a patch of blue on the upper left with a fist, raising its middle finger in defiance of all.

*****

Sir Évreux's Tomato roared into the capital's airspace at full speed. Making a wide turn to cut speed as it slowed into place above the Palace. Sir Évreux ran to the gate and straightened his formal uniform. A white top with red pants. His jacket was also red with the skull and crossbones on the left upper sleeve. His various medals in pristine condition on his chest. He made sure everything looked perfect before walking through the gate to enter the Pays Des Abrutis Palace. Once he came through the gate he found a strange gathering of leaders. The Emperor of Wütendes Menschenreich, Count Rouvroy, Duke de la Marche, Duke Aumont, Count Leon, Count Baux, Count Foix, and King Montfort.  They all turned to look at Sir Évreux as if their savior had just arrived.

King Montfort called out, "Charles, it's good to see you. Here's what we know so far. A huge floating city drifted over the city. The Council of Magic went up to investigate and then a strange black cloud appeared and the floating city vanished. At the same time, all of the gates to the Council of magic vanished."

The Emperor of Wütendes Menschenreich added, "Our gate also stopped functioning as did the gates in all of the territories of the families of the Council of Magic."

Sir Évreux frowned before saying, "Alright, I need to go investigate. I'll come right back here once I know what's happened." He made a gate and then stepped through. It seemed like an eternity before another gate appeared and Sir Évreux appeared his uniform was stained with dirt and he looked as if he had recently fallen. He brushed himself off and said, "The area belonging to the Council of Magic is gone. As if it were scooped out of the Earth and whisked away. I found no trace. I will go back aboard my ship and activate the locate spell that leads to the repair facility. Then we will at least know which direction to travel in order to find them. I think, for now, we should assume that they are alright, they would have come back here by a gate if they were in danger."

All of them nodded, the worry was still on everyone's face. It wasn't just losing some of their people, these were their children, their heirs. The ones who had changed the world and made them all much more powerful. In Albert'scase, the brother that had the most important connection to the royal family. King Montfort said to them all, "You are all welcome to stay until they have been found, or we can send messengers to come to get you once we have word of their condition or location."

The group slowly returned to their own homes, unsure just how long it would take them to hear something. The world was a big place and they could be anywhere.

*****

The Bromanians made multiple drops to the ruins bringing an entire battalion of their men and officers. Once the officers took over the search became much more methodical. In a few hours, they determined that the city in the clouds was completely abandoned. The soldiers started to report finding amazing devices and objects that were powered by magic. They had clearly been untouched for thousands of years. Magic was being used to keep the city looking almost brand new. Sergent Batey and his men found a small house to use for their unit. "Hey, Sarge, just what the hell are we looking for up here? This place gives me the creeps." A short dark haired younger man asked.

Sergent Batey took a drag off his cigar and then said, "The higher-ups think this place will let us build those big ships the Northerners use."

Another one of his men took off his helmet and roughed up his blond hair, he said, "We found some crazy things here Sarge, but I think maybe the officers have got it wrong about this place. It feels like... Death is just lingering here waiting to take us. How can it look this nice and not have any signs of people? It's like they were just snatched away."

Another man said, "Hey, you guys, I found a book, look!"

Sergent Batey's eyes lit up and he growled out, "Dobson, toss that over here. Let me see it." The other man tossed the book to him and he started to flip through the pages, "Good work Dobson, this is exactly what we are here to find. Let's radio this in. Jasper Command will want this book."

Another one of the men asked, "What's in it, Sarge?"

Sergent Batey rolled the cigar in his mouth from one side to the other before exhaling a cloud of smoke, "I can't read it."

*****

Sir Évreux walked on to the bridge of the Tomato and activated the location spell. Surprisingly it pointed in exactly the direction he saw the strange Bromanian airgroup. He frowned and then said, "Messenger, send to the Palace, possible location found in Bromanian airspace, please advise." He made a fist and then said out loud, "That thing in the clouds I saw, could it be the city that was over the capital?"

A messenger quickly returned and said, "From the Palace, they must be found no matter where. You are clear to proceed."

Sir Évreux called out, "Set course two three five, half ahead revolutions fourteen hundred. We're going to be passing through Bromanian airspace, so spotters watch for high altitude interceptors. All nonessential personnel should rig for rough maneuvers. Messenger, have command prepare troops from a possible drop in three hours."

*****

Madeline and Guy walked hand in hand through the small town, people would stop and point at them in awe from time to time. Madeline chuckled and said, "I think they believe we are Gods."

Guy nodded and said, "Well, we showed up on a floating island and then appeared by magic. When you tried to buy food with gold you caused that poor farmer to faint. I think we need to learn the prices for things in this world before we try to buy in bulk. Also, it seems to me that these people barely have enough food for this village, they can't support an extra three hundred or more mouths."

Madeline nodded and said, "We are in a real crisis here. Do you have any ideas?"

Guy nodded and said, "I found a spell I am hoping will work for us." He walked over and picked up an apple from a stall in the market and said, "Duplicate." Another apple appeared in his empty hand. He placed the original apple back and gave the new one to Madeline who took a bite.

Madeline's eyes lit up, "It's a real apple, you mean, we can just cast this spell on our food and double it?"

Guy nodded and said, "I was thinking we could make a device that duplicates things using this spell up there on Laputa. That way the people there could just duplicate the food we have."

Madeline nodded and then asked, "Can you duplicate something that is a duplicate?"

Guy shook his head, "No, unfortunately. Even with the duplicate spell, it will only allow us to duplicate the original food which is still going to decay. This is only a temporary fix."

Madeline frowned and then said, "In other words, we need to make some farms to support our city."

Guy nodded and said, "We'll just have make an area out there in the forest." He pointed to the unclaimed lands. "A few of the workers are going to take the farming duties, also Algernon found some spells to help us speed up the planting and growth of the farms. We'll be able to survive the year for sure. We'll also organize hunting groups for meat. This forest is teeming with game."

Madeline leaned against Guy and said, "I miss my Muffin and my family, but with you here, I feel as safe as if I were at home."

Guy pulled her into a hug and kissed her softly on the lips, "I'll make you another ship, one that can touch the stars. Don't worry."

Madeline smiled and nodded, "I know what it was like for you now, to leave behind your family and start fresh in a new world. It's scary and at the same time, exciting. You get to see and do things you never imagined you would have to try. A world that is only similar to what you know, but very different. Did you see us the way we see them? Like people with no common sense?"

Guy chuckled and then explained, "No, they have common sense, it's just the common sense of people who aren't technologically advanced. These people have never learned to read and write for the most part, so they are stuck learning from word of mouth. It's very hard to improve the lives of the commoners in this kind of world."

Madeline nodded and said, "Then shall we start our own school?"

Guy chuckled and nodded, "Sure, what do you want to call it?"

Madeline thought about it for a while and then said, "I'll call it the Academy de L'échec. I know what that school looks like, so I'll just make a copy of it here."

*****

The Chairman of the Academy de L'échec was walking with one of the students through the hall. She looked at the Chairman and asked, "Is it true that the Academy was here before the capital city was built?"

The Chairman nodded and said, "The Academy was started over two thousand years ago. It has survived countless governments, warlords, and Kings. Some have said that this very Academy was responsible for the birth of the age of reason. The slow shift from a belief in Gods and Goddesses to the belief in one's self. The saying, 'Hard work builds countries and wishes build nothing' was credited as having come from this very Academy."

She looked inspired and then asked, "Is this the oldest school in the world?"

The Chairman nodded and said, "Yes, we believe it is, there are no other records of another school from the time the Academy de L'échec was built. Did you know that in our library you can find books that date back to the time of the great wizards? There are several books that hint that it was the great wizards themselves who created this Academy in order to raise a population that could read and write."

"Amazing!" She looked starstruck as she looked at the older buildings of the campus. She thought out loud, "It's amazing that they have been so well maintained."

The Chairman chuckled and said, "We have rebuilt nearly every brick and board of the school in the many centuries it has been in existence, but we follow the traditions laid down from the beginning. This school will always serve the people of Pays Des Abrutis."

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