The life shattering star cries out hallow;
Shaking deep the time-stained bones of the weary dead;
As carves out the light a way towards tomorrow;
As from the heavens, it shines — just above my head;
And as it flies, not grazing past my gaze, but rather straight towards it;
I grip my fists and hold them tight, as I turn so quickly about, so as my enemy to face;
The thing that from on high, now falls down on low, the shining glow it casts away;
In the distance above myself, as if by the hands of my god;
Who has it, towards myself, now hurtled;
Towards this creature that I am, this thing who lives in disgrace;
“- Bastard. I’ll kill you!” I shout, as I lift my fist and shake it into the sun’s face.
Sunrise has come once again and I am still tired;
I do not care for mornings.
~ Untitled poem. Author unknown. Found in the ruins of the Demon-King’s dungeon
Isaiah sits on the grasses, down low, by the river’s embankment.
It is night time.
The soft voice of the melusine, singing in the river, bounds around the forest landscape, intermingling in with the gentle whispering of the water. Loud voices ring out in the nearby distance. Adventurers and other people of all sorts have been gathering and they’ve been setting up shop outside of the tower. Many of them have been drinking and now find themselves in and around the hot-springs area.
Isaiah does not care much for such gregarious events though. They’re too noisy. Too chaotic. It supposes that it is nice that people are having fun. But it would rather be here.
The melusine doesn’t seem to mind Isaiah too much, as long as it is by itself, without the uthra. The monster simply sits there in the river, brushing its hair and singing to itself in the moonlight.
This is a nice way to spend a night too.
Orange taps a large shelf, stacked with massive bricks as Crystal and Green fly by. “It took us a few days, but we got it done,” says the new uthra.
Isaiah looks around the underground area, connected to the tunnels below the tower. The new warehouse version of the stockpile is massive and, better yet, it is secure from any humans snooping around.
— Plus it has the benefit of just making the grounds look nicer. Those bricks laying around outside had really ruined the atmosphere.
“Excellent work. Thank you,” says Isaiah. This new stockpile is lined with strong, large shelves that the uthra are easily stocking, because of their magical resource-gathering abilities that they each had gained at level two. So far, only Red has been upgraded to level three. But Isaiah likes that. The level three uthra abilities are somewhat niche, so it isn’t a big loss and it signals Red’s legitimacy as the supervisor of the lot.
Speaking of Red. Isaiah turns its head as she flies in. “You shouldn’t be down here,” she says. “The tower’s getting creamed by those drunken assholes upstairs!” snaps the creature, pointing at Isaiah.
Isaiah nods. Red isn’t wrong. This floor is deeper than the other tunnels. The tower must be ridiculously easy to fight right now while it’s down here.
“Keep up the good work,” it instructs and then flies out.
Isaiah watches as a group of adventurers fly out of the dungeon’s gate, tumbling over each other into a jumbled heap. It isn’t a very graceful exit. But they should be glad that they’re alive.
“What the hell was that?!” asks a dwarf, rubbing his head.
One of them is still screaming. A woman covers his mouth, stopping him.
“- It was a giant damn bird,” says a man. “— Fucking hell… I thought you lost your arm?”
The others look the muffled, screaming man’s way, pulling and poke his arm that is, still, very much attached. Isaiah wasn’t watching them. But it would appear that the man had lost his arm during the end of their incursion.
“…Hey, how did we get here?” asks a woman. “Better yet, why are we alive?” she asks.
They all look at each other, not having an answer.
It seems the ‘mercy’ ability it had taken is, indeed, very merciful.
“Wanna try again?” asks the woman, dusting herself off. “I really need a little more money!”
“Uh? No?” replies the dwarf. He points up to above their heads, where a window is floating between them. “Talk about biting off more than you can chew.” He looks around the area. People have set up tents and camps around the entrance. “I don’t know about you people, but I’m going to the shrine.”
“Huh?” asks the woman, watching him as he walks away. “The shrine? But you’re not religious?”
“Did you miss the part where we died?” he asks, looking over his shoulder towards her. “I’m taking the hint.”
The others don’t have much of an argument against this. Two more go with him to the shrine. One of them watches his hand, squeezing his fingers as he walks. The other two set up their camp.
Isaiah feels kind of bad for them. It decides to throw them a bone. They don’t really have people-money to give away here, barring a few loose coins. But they do have some spare resources.
It channels its energy into the proclaiming statue, set just outside before the tower. A window pops up and many interested faces look its way.
Honestly, it’s a lot to take in.
Scion can barely contain herself as she looks around the tower. She heads up another staircase.
She’s been a person of faith for her entire life, ever since she was a girl. She had devoted her entire purpose to the veneration of the divine and so, for it to accept her as it has, for it to make itself so directly felt in her life… For it to come outside and to pull her off of her knees — She’s honored and terrified at the same time.
The elf gulps, heading upstairs.
“Okay! Move it along, people!” snaps Red. “Especially you, long ears!” she barks.
Rorate looks at Red. “After we finish getting the alchemy lab setup, would you like to pray together?”
“What?” asks Red, flying past her. “Get a grip,” says Red, rolling her eyes as she flies across a segment of wall. “You!” she says, pointing at Beulah. “Where are you going?”
Beulah looks at Red, holding a box of his things. Given that he was on the run, the box is very sparsely packed, barring a few nick-nacks and an odd piece of tree bark. “The shrine-maidens said I could live with them.”
“The what?” asks Red, leaning in down towards him. She spins her finger next to her head. “They’re monsters. They can’t talk and they definitely can’t look for roommates, weirdo,” says the uthra, pointing off to a small house. “Get in your free house and like it!”
“Huh? Of course they c -”
“Get!” snaps Red.
Beulah sighs, walking off.
“Red,” says Isaiah. “Be kind. Today is a good day.”
Red shakes her head. “You’ve been saying that every day.”
Isaiah nods, looking around at the people moving below its tree. “Have I been wrong?” Red rolls her eyes. “Ah, I almost forgot. Thank you for taking the sun-dial away from me back then, Red,” says Isaiah. “It would have pained me to look at it any longer.”
The uthra tilts her head. “Huh? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Isaiah nods. Red can be kind, but she would never admit to it. “You get a grip too,” she replies, pointing at it before flying off. “Weirdo.”
Isaiah points to the side, to another branch on its tree. “Your nest is very nice, Red,” it calls after her. “You made it well.” Several ‘nests’ are there, all along the branches of the very-big-tree. The uthra don’t have a need to sleep, but they can certainly have a little place to call their own.
Isaiah looks around the top floor of the tower.
Before now, it was just an open ‘meadow’, with only the single very-big-tree to adorn it.
Now, around the right half of the outer ring of the structure, the walls have been raised in several areas to allow for a half-ring of houses. Crystal and Green have run water from the river around the area in small pipes that feed into channels and basins and a second, more private, hot-spring for the people who live here. The very-big-tree still remains as a solitary structure on the left side of the meadow, hanging out over the ledge above the entrance area.
There is a communal area with tables and Crystal has indeed managed to set up a shortcut to the kitchen below the tower. That means that it’s always just a door away.
“H- hello,” says the new-comer, Scion. She yelps as the uthra fly over, picking her up and carrying her straight towards a door.
Isaiah nods, content.
It closes its eyes, looking through the eyes of an old statue.
Several birds lay nested together, huddled in a big heap. Fragments of cracked shells lay scattered to the sides. A clutch of chicks lays sleeping, quietly resting beneath the wings of a male blackbird, who also finds peaceful rest.
Isaiah exhales, returning to its vision.
It is just the same.
— It opens its wings out wide, spanning them out for as far as it can, past the branches of the tree.
The chicks. The people here with itself.
They are the same. They are small, hungry things that squeak and chirp and have a desire to be fed and sheltered.
It isn’t just these people here though, Rorate and Beulah and all of the others. There are hungry and weary and scared and lost people all over the world. Its new goal is clear. It is to bring them here, to bring them to shelter. Its new goal is for the tower to rise ever higher as a beacon on the world for every being that seeks a place to belong, a place of shelter and safety. A nest.
And then, when they finally do reach the gods and the sky…
— Isaiah turns its head towards the clouds.
Then, it will bring them to see the errors they had made with their process of creation. Perhaps they had once made this place, this world, with good intent in days now long since past. But like a mother that has not loved her children, or a man that has not fed his dog, they have neglected those things placed into their care. Just as like those rejected wards, the world too, grows hungry and weak and neglected, does it not?
It will return them, the gods, to their task. Even if they perhaps might not like the idea themselves.
Somebody has to.
It turns its attention towards the grounds of the tower, towards the road. An opulent, purple-sashed carriage, trimmed with gold, drives down the road towards the tower with a procession of many more behind itself. Guardsmen and many priests walk at its side. It would seem that the human church has arrived.