Mount Idres was sedately silent as it always was. The only difference that made this night special was that the darkness that usually escorted the silence had been molested by the unusual brilliance streaking across the Gijarian sky. A single ray of that brilliance found its way onto the wall where the Stones remain in eternal contemplation in their rocky stature. That one ray of light channeling through the top of the mountain into the Stone Shrine pierced the immortal effigy of King Heru – The King of War. The burning of the stone fissure started small, but within moments smoke could be seen escaping the left shoulder of Heru. The yelp of anguish by the King of War couldn’t be heard by mortal ears. The other kings standing in time along with Heru could hear his pain loud and clear. The light emanating from the star streaking across the sky was harmful to the Stones and it was heading directly toward them. This alerted the Shroud below in the abyss as it started to stir to protect its charges from the potential threat. The Shroud stirring, in turn, had awoken the army that lay in obscurity for their moment to strike.
The army had been established thousands of moons ago starting with King NeVada. The idea was to build an army of immortals stronger and more durable than those of the Waryn to be able to defeat the chaos that Sokara was sure to send his way in retaliation of her exile. NeVada had insisted the army be immortal so that once fallen, they can resurrect to continue fighting until victory was announced on his side of the battlefield. Sokara never returned, so the army has remained dormant in the nebulous pit of the floating rock high above the Gemin on Firma for centuries. They remain standing in formation in the abyss waiting for the order to attack. The lack of light and the lack of nourishment have turned them all into rock hard stone like their masters above them.
They were once enemies of the establishment. Among them – thieves, murderers, rapists and those that have exhibited treason to the Crown at one time or another. King NeVada – once a humble king – had been infected with a virus by his Queen which made him crave blood and flesh. It was completely by mistake that he learned that he could infect his subject with the virus and they would be subservient until he wished them terminated. He then began collecting these altered Gemin to his advantage.
Before they were infected with his virus, NeVada had noticed there seemed to be a kinship among those he had chosen while they lay in waiting in the dungeons far below Castle Castora. They enjoyed the darkness and the destitution. He could faintly hear them singing from the bowels of the castle as if there was nothing to fear. They had become fraternal in the anticipation of death. They had taken what was threatening and turned it sublime. Each one of them had come to embrace their own oblivion. Annihilation had greeted them only to find them all willing to slap it on the back and adopt it as their very own. It was astonishing for King NeVada to witness this. Empyreal, even. But soon the screams of pain would betray their acceptance of the true death to come.
It wasn’t long before the true horror would become unpleasantly known to them as they, one by one, turned Vampyr in King NeVada’s likeness. The creatures began thirsting for blood without ever knowing this was a condition of the virus. They fed on each other in the dungeons below. NeVada would have a handful of transformed Vampyr one day and the next would find only the strongest of the pack had survived. Limbs and bone would be scattered along the dungeon floor where recruits used to once dwell.
This wasn’t what NeVada had in mind at all. The carnage was meant for Sokara should she return. Not for his own army. He had to set boundaries. He had to implant rules. He had to instill order. He had recruited his strongest General of the Waryn Brigade to charge this band of misfits causing the blitz in the dungeons. The General lasted two turns of the moon until on the rise of the third moon he, too, was devoured by the hungry recruits. King NeVada’s Shroud had then begun whispering to him in its ancient tongue about what was to be done. The plan was clear. For far too long the fallen have enjoyed freedom in the posh dungeons of Castle Castora. Their lot was to be darkened and forsaken. They were to be abdicated into the abyss, the source of the Shroud would see to them all. They wouldn’t be able to eat a mist and they couldn’t balk at a cloud they wouldn’t be able to see in the void of the mountain. What they hungered for would have to be delivered to them rather than offered. Those that have become eidolic in their manner would become obedient revenants in their rejection. And evil smirk crossed his lips while he pondered what to name his troops. They would be known as the “Fraternal Establishment of Eidolic Revenants”, or FEER.
And so FEER has stood alert and obedient since their inception with the beginning of King NeVada. They have stood compliant and devoted through thirteen kings awaiting their release. Their numbers have grown through the cycles of the moon depending on their punishment from their prospective king’s court or through King NeVAda himself. Thousands of altered Gemin have found FEER to be their fate for their horrific crimes on both Gijar and Gamgijar. They suspended all life in order to honor their kings and their past transgressions. That was, except, for the two newest members of FEER.
They stood in the back of the since neither one have yet been turned into stone like their demonic brothers. Justin and Micah had merely been sedated for their transport from Earth to Mount Idres and then tossed into the abyss with the rest of the army. They would either eat or be eaten. That was the law of FEER. Only the strongest survive, and not just in the physical sense. It was quite possible for those with mental strength to outwit those with no wits at all. The Order of the Sistrum had placed them here among the army and the Shroud in hopes to gain an upper hand on Dice since it was thought that these two acquaintances from the Prophet’s former life would come in handy to defeat him when that time comes. The Sistrum hadn’t planned on Micah, a drug addict that can withstand heavy doses of carcinogens with minimal effect, coming out of his trance before any member of FEER noticed his presence.
Micah wasn’t cut or bleeding. No member of FEER could detect a live member for their ingestion among them. Their sense of smell for the life force flowing through Micah’s veins should have awakened their passion for the kill. What they didn’t count on was that Micah’s blood wasn’t pure and it wasn’t all blood. Prior to his abduction back on Earth he had shot up on Oxy. If FEER could sense high levels of Oxycodone in someone’s veins then, sure, their alarms would be squealing red alerts. The Oxy just might have saved Micah’s life. It wasn’t the Oxy that eventually saved Micah’s life, though. What saved Micah was his step-brother, Justin, who was standing to Micah’s left in the back row of the thousands of other FEER associates who remained at attention for thousands of moons amid thousands of Khepra. One human was about to make a break out of the abyss and none of the FEER were the wiser.
Justin was infected with a virus, but not the kind the rest of the FEER standing before him had been infected with. The FEER were infected with the Vampyr strain. Justin had something entirely different and that something different was rising slowly to the surface of his skin to answer the call of the light illuminating the Gijarian sky.
Justin’s light started as a small dot on his hands to quickly engulf his entire limbs to his shoulders. He grimaced a bit as a slight pain began in his shoulder blades and began branching out through his scapula. The pain he was experiencing was the rapid growth of his wings. They were bursting through his tender human skin to expel fully in the rear flank of the FEER brigade. He let out an audible bellow of relief as he stretched his new wings to their fullest extent. The sound he made vibrated off the dark walls in the silent abyss alerting the thousands of those standing sentry before him, and the thousands of scarabs scurrying on the walls in the dark, that he was alive and revived.
Those FEER closest to him in the back turned slightly in their stone form to face Justin and to immediately shield their eyes from his bright white light. Their hands did nothing to guard them from Justin’s brilliance. The FEER in Justin’s general surroundings popped like corn in a hot skillet in a matter of seconds. Then the whispering started. It was an ancient language that was low and even. It sounded more like an air leak of some sort to Micah as he tried to shake his own fog filling his head. He watched his brother – who was now all aglow – stand firm as the men of stone move toward Justin. The stone men were more gliding than they were walking. And those men were gliding in their direction. Micah heard Justin wailing in pain and so he took action. Micah had learned kick boxing in high school and was the state champion in his junior and senior years. He put those skills to use as he kicked high and kicked hard at the FEER attempting to surround Justin. There were so many of them all at one time. It was difficult for Justin to concentrate on those who meant him harm while he was continuing his transformation. His brother was turning into a human light bulb with wings. It wasn’t long before Micah learned he didn’t have to kick as hard and as often as was due to Justin’s light frying the competition if they got too close. Even the dark mist that Micah had noticed rapidly approaching the duo had come to a halt at a lengthy perimeter around the current action taking place.
Justin’s transformation had been complete. The wings were grey in color and spread approximately eight feet horizontally from wing tip to wing tip. Justin raised his hands. For a minute Micah thought Justin was going to lead the attackers in some sort of prayer. Justin then turned his palms to face the crowd that stretched far and wide before the two brothers. The few dozen stone men surrounding Micah and Justin popped. A cloud of ash was floating in the air in all directions. Justin grabbed his brother by the waist, squatted a bit and then lifted straight up into the open air above them. He was making a bee line for the pin-sized hole at the top of the cavern they had found themselves in. Micah looked below to see if anyone (or anything!) was in hot pursuit behind them. They weren’t. What he saw was astonishing. There were literally thousands of stone statues in a sort of formation on the ground floor below them. He’d never seen so many statues in his entire life and certainly not all in one place. Where the fuck are we? he thought just as Justin was escaping the abyss. Micah looked to his left while the light at the top was gaining circumference. Justin’s wings fast and they flapped loud. On the wall to the left were a dozen or so very large statues carved into the wall. By the looks of it they were old men. He figured this must be some kind of monument to past presidents that he hadn’t heard about in any class he had ever attempted to pay attention to.
He then looked at his brother, which was a little hard to do without having to squint his eyes. Just was so goddamned bright. His first thought was that he must be dreaming. Then he felt the cool night air as Justin cleared the very large hole at the top of the cave. Micah looked below him to see a pyramid. How in the hell did we get to Egypt? he thought. He was amazed at the enormity of the structure. He’d never been this close to a pyramid, much less fly over one before. It looked like the entire thing was made of gold. “Is that a castle down there?” he yelled at his brother as caught a glimpse of Castle Castora. He found it was difficult to talk – or yell – as cool air was rushing into his face to fill his lungs. He looked at Justin one more time. Justin seemed to be calm, cool and collected like Jus had done this a hundred times and was nothing new to him.
Justin wasn’t hearing his brother’s comments. He was tuning in to hear his friend, Dice, talking to him even though he was nowhere to be seen.
“…now fly below, to the side of the mountain. That’s where you’ll find me.” Dice was communicating with Justin through telekinesis. Micah couldn’t hear Dice, but his brother could. As soon as Justin shot out of the top of Mount Idres, he took a dive to find the Temple that Dice had described to him in his thoughts. The Temple of the Ma’at would be in the side of the mountain designed as a shrine to the Stones.
The FEER in the abyss below had become anxious. There was an enemy in their midst and their only unified thought was to find that enemy to annihilate it. Not a single FEER uttered a sound, though. They had all Vampyr running through their veins. They all had the power of telepathy. The creatures had been using that telepathy to communicate with each other for thousands of moons. It was the Shroud that silenced them all. The Shroud calmed them with reassurance that vengeance would soon be theirs. But now was not the time. And this was not the place. This was a holy mountain. Wars were not waged here. Blood was not to be unnecessarily spilled here. The FEER quelled their anger uniformly. The Shroud was always right. There would be another time. When that time presents itself the intruders would pay for their destruction of their brethren.
In the saturninity of the Shrine of Stones only one voice could be heard; that of the King of Kings. NeVada. “So, the moment has come. We have waited many moons for this clandestine meeting with He Who Will Destroy Us. He waits at our very door. Our only recourse is to answer and to heed his calling.” The twelve Stones all concurred in unison. NeVada couldn’t see through his eyes made of mineral, ore and rock. But he could sense his son, and his son’s sons, and those that were to follow. His bloodline remained in cold slabs next to him due to the curse spat at him in anger by his estranged beloved. His only concern was that his curse was about to be broken and his existence was about to end. He wasn’t exactly sure if he was ready for the end of days. But he was confident he had had his fill of the curse of immortality. The Prophet was a tool to release him of his bondage that was bitterly proffered to him without his consent. He was at odds with his demise and his longevity. If the time had come for a new God, then so be it. That new God will not get the throne of divinity without a fight. And if Sokara could somehow meet her end at the same time, that outcome would be worth his eradication. You win some, you lose some. Through the days of silence and meditation he has listened to many a prayer. He’s answered prayers of love and war with no marker in between. He has witnessed – first hand – the battle of both. He and the Stones must, once again, take up arms to judge swiftly and accurately to bring this torment to end. This time, the Stones will have the legend of FEER at their disposal.
May the best Gemin win.