The three groups set out across the alien terrain towards their fluid-like destiny. Underfoot the ground was dry, stony and unyielding, broken here and there by gritty mounds and rises. The plateau behind them and the distant mountain range before them framed the vast, open, alien desert. Indeed the environment served as a constant visual reminder that the land they were in was not their home.
They gave scant care to being stealthy, knowing that time was against them. Nevertheless they still took care not to silhouette themselves against the night sky giving way to a murky dawn.
Although the twelve figures had arrived together, there were no firm bonds except the loosest of agreements and a vow not to break the common-code.
It was more a way of life for factions such as these, indeed back on the world of Terra there was much left to explore and plentiful areas to spread out to.
Watcher Owesion was the leader of his group — The Soliters, kindred to the Vanir tribe. Owesion was Way Captain for the mission and one who commanded the other twelve.
He cast oceanic eyes at the two other tribes on both sides of him.
On his right were his kindred-cousins — the Vril, they were those that descended from the Aesir. With the Unity War being long since over a lasting peace had been forged between they and the Soliters.
The Vrils’ weave-armored clothes were worn fairly-tightly, with a vague ‘V’ symbol on their chest and runic sigils on their upper arms. Being kindred to the Soliters, their attire was somewhat similar in look albeit with fairer shades of gray, brown and burgundy typically. Both groups wore cloaks, albeit the Soliters had hoods sewn-on along with fringing runes.
To the Captain's left were the Kaslar, an eastern tribe of some note once called the Kaslarites. Yet since the days of the twelve tribes were long gone the remaining ones were known as the Kaslar. They were a nomadic folk with mostly mingled bloodlines. A people who were said to have hailed from beyond the great Levant River, with more caucus-blood than that of the southern desert tribes. Compared to their Rabian rivals they were something of an elite people with less swarthy looks and habits. According to the Soliter and Vril saga-keepers, they were more cunning, ruthless and superior than their desert rivals.
Indeed the Kaslar folk still wielded secret weapons of flame, allowing them to be more than capable of holding their own against rivals. By either providence or fortune the gateway stones had their origin in Kaslar lands thus making them the third group in the quest.
There was relative peace between them all, for Terra still enjoyed a time of lingering bounty of the golden times. However, some of the elders were noticing a shifting of the upper atmosphere, reducing the harmonic elements from entering the world somehow. The orbs they now sought would surely help prevent or possibly reverse the process.
They were all so concentrated that any thought of Terra was far from their minds. Most of the old feuding rivalries and clashes were quite distant as well. Especially as the common bonds of questing for greatness took precedent.
Owesion ran a hand through his reddish-blond hair. With luck, the outcome of their quest would see a lasting golden age on Terra and a return to the ways of excellence.
Ennias, leader of his Vril trio had a hazy gleam to his eye, he too eager for success. Such a thing would grant him good standing with the Vril hierarchy, possibly even stealing the thunder from Owesion's own greatness back on Terra. Both Vril males wore helmets but his could not conceal the bright fair hair that spilled back like a mane. He carried a hollow-metal staff with a tube containing the esoteric substance Vril-Ya making it into a deadly and formidable weapon. Yet the Vril Staff or Vril Rod was inherently reliant on the Vril-Ya, an energy source that did not last long. Opening them up in the field was not advisable either, for a moist or even dusty environment could ruin the delicate internals. It was an extreme weapon, yet one that could not be effectively reloaded.
The lone female of the Vril, known as a 'Gy' in the Vril-language, did not carry a staff, but instead she bore a circular sling-glade. A controllable device that when thrown was a lethal disc of death and injury. Faern was very young, not yet twenty-one in Terran years. Her own blonde hair, like Ennias' was noticeable for being long in fashion but not lengthy. To those that were not used to her looks and ways she was as beautiful and irresistible as a mid-winter storm.
She felt the eyes of another on her and turned quickly to her left. The moving figures there in the dark gloomy night gave no indication, but she suspected it was the Soliter Keeper Sigrun. She was a dark-blond Soliter female with seer-like insights and ravishing looks. Or perhaps it could have been curious Nireth the Kaslar girl?
The other Vril warrior was Wilderen — a tough, giant of a man with thick brows and fair features. His cleft, lantern-jawline was prominent emphasizing an over-aggressive manner that Ennias often struggled to control. The man was a formidable warrior suited to adversity and for this alone he'd been chosen.
He nodded grimly at the large formation of complex mountains and dry channels. Once water would have flown readily on this dark world. Now much of it was a desert, a grayish-beige desert in the dirty, dawning light. The breathable, yet thick atmosphere allowed little sunlight in. Some vegetation existed elsewhere, but even that was fading and in decay. It was alien to even these strange intruders. Perhaps the very distant sun itself was slowly dying, lacking the force and power to properly penetrate the thick atmosphere. It was a matter that wouldn't normally concern them, for their world was light years away. Yet they were now among a realm where no rescue or friendly support existed except for themselves. The only way of returning to their home world was through the gate-stones from which they arrived.
Even this was not fixed, but ‘cycled-in’ and ‘cycled-out’ in a self-governing, complex and patterned sequence. A phenomena not fully understood by their elder kin. Should they miss the 'cycle-out' it would be death sentence. Indeed it could be many millennia or even eons before another crossed over the gate-stones path, especially so far from home.
Trust therefore played a part in what these beings were doing. They all had lofty masters who could locate the roaming gateways with different ways and means, thus allowing travel to ‘off-world’ areas in a 'hitch-hiker' fashion.
Such an undertaking did not reflect on their carried equipment. In fact there was a curious gulf between what and where they could travel to, and their own technology and capabilities on getting there.
According to the Navigators the next gate return ‘cycle’ would be within less than a day. It would remain open for only a short duration of barely three minutes. If they missed this ‘return-gate’ being marooned was a certainty followed by a languishing death. Water seemed scarce, if any life at all existed it must surely be beyond the bone-dry mountains and arid terrain.
They moved as one for another five minutes before the Kaslar leader, Prophus Ghone called for a halt.
“What do we know about it?” Prophus Ghone asked. His name meant priestly crack or fissure. He was a ruthless man, born from a long-line of high-priests. Ghone spoke the words without his customary harshness though. Knowing it would possibly bother the Soliter and the Vril, the former spoke near-fluent Kaslar while the latter was less able.
“We know only what our elders have told us,” Owesion spoke calmly.
He raised his helmet’s visor. The atmosphere was of course breathable, but a whipping wind bothered his eyes somewhat. The Captain pointed towards the noticeable mountains.
“Over there, to that mountain range. Within it is that which buzzes and intrigues our masters.”
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