The Geneforged Sorceress (Part 2) – Lost in Silvasung Forest

It was days after Anya first entered the Silvasung forest, losing the danger of being hunted by the guards and the hissing, the ominous hissing which sound fell upon her stubby ears gave her a boost of adrenaline, enough to sprint faster and further into the forest’s depth. She was lost, surrounded by vegetation and had no clue or indication as to her location. The summit of Caldera could act as a point of reference but only during the day and only if the weather was clear enough that the cloud ceiling wasn’t obscuring the steam spewing beacon. Using the main road would have been too risky when she had first escaped, even if she did know it’s location she dared not return to it.

Her feet were in agony and went into spasm frequently while she tore fresh pieces off her cloak. Taking the self made bandages off her feet stung relentlessly. Is was the best attempt she could do to protect the open sores that were created through the exertion of running practically barefoot. The ash that was buried under the leaf litter still managed to find it’s way into the wounds and caused a minor sting that to her concern became duller by the day. Stepping on the smallest of stones however sharp was still noticeable and when dug into her fleshy soles provoked the pain to continue.

However bad the hurting she felt, it was mild compared to the bitter coldness of the nights. The first night away from the ambient warmth of Caldera was a drastic change for her body. Being a cold blooded creature the slightest change affected her, lethargy and depression kicked in, an almost minor sense of regret crept into her mind. ‘Was this really better than her life before escaping?’ While she was adept in survival the change in environment would prove to be a tremendous challenge, a far cry from the hazed alleyways and sewers of the city. Trying to start a fire was next to impossible because of the wood’s high resistance to burn and trying to ignite anything flammable would instead consume more energy than it would take for it to combust, something she was in short supply.

There was a strange lack of flesh based life for a forest of this size and with no clear indication as to why. Anya’s stomach was demanding, yet another ache brought to the forefront of her mind and required a sacrifice however small, to end it’s torment. The only life apart from the young drake herself was and assortment of insects found under the deadwood and moveable moss covered rockery. All the little morsels could be hidden under nearly every inanimate but moveable object and just required a small effort to overturn their protective homes.

Lifting a chuck of decayed wood revealed a plater of scurrying miniature life in an assortment of shapes antenna and many many legs, it would take a deft hand just to provide a small mouthful. For a carnivorous race like the Calderani, insects were not the palatable choice for those who become accustomed to dine of the meatier farmed livestock. Living rough in the shadows of others and the alleys of the Calderan streets, food wasn’t handed out a plate. So the feast before her was more that she would have eaten normally over the course of any week.

Greed filled her mind knowing that it still qualified as edible food, the requirement she needed to sustain herself. While the numerous appendages and frittering of many legs would have deterred many, Anya’s instinct and desire to survive kicked in. Hunger closed out of her mind the hideous sensation of each of them crawling around the inside of her mouth and over her dry forked tongue. There was no hesitation to chew and their wriggling bodies were brought to an abrupt end with her pointed teeth shearing through their carapace, barely mashed into a paste before being swallowed.

After a few cringing moments and cracking of abdomens, her belly filled enough that she felt content that starvation wouldn’t claim her, something she very rarely enjoyed. She continued her journey further into the forest. After many days walking with the agonising pain, fear set in as she knew that she could no longer continue. While her mind had the determination her body had no energy. Her legs froze stiff and could no longer hold her fragile weight, she slumped to the ground almost splitting her head open on a sharp outcropping rock, the war she fought against the pain had come to an overwhelming conclusion. Anya’s last conscious moments were of the horrible sound she tried sparing herself from the first days of her forestry hike.

…the hissing had returned.

From out of the bushes appear a blur of white hideous maws of miniature razor sharp teeth with legs and eyes attached. The hissing was the sound of millions upon millions of these small bug like creatures pouring over one another, struggling to be the first to their next destination. It almost appeared as a liquid slushing through the undergrowth where they slivered over and through everything in it’s path. They meandered towards Anya as incarnation of Ignaria and saw no resistance to their devastation, just as one would expect a creation of the Goddess of Destruction who would see to the end of everything good or bad. No remorse, no guilt. Just an eternal wave of devouring macro plague looking for a new host.

Reaching just inches beyond her feet a blinding light flooded the area and a strange force shield blocked the creatures which was just as close from the opposite side. The white mass piled up against the bubble, damned up by a protective magik. Anya was inched away hands first by an entity unknown towards an unknown destination…


Laura Steel © 2014

The Geneforged Sorceress (Part 1) Escape to Silvasung Forest

Having no home, there no reason to live beyond survival with in the city of Caldera was no longer enough for Anya. Having recently witnessed yet another family have their children taken away from them because of their Vis ‘taint’. She felt so helpless and lacked enough courage to act out and was eating away inside of her. The alleys and sewers had housed her for her entire life but being constantly on the run meant that she would never know a sense of peace. One she wanted so desperately but she knew if it was one she wanted it meant she could no longer stay. The urge to escape was always present but a level of complacency and apathy compelled her to stay, even with the Academy having successfully made the city uninhabitable for anyone who used Magik at any level.

After many preparations, Anya made plans to sneak out of the city and was almost flawlessly executed. She had managed to sneak a few meters out of the main city gate, before her presence was noticed. It was still enough to avoid being trapped inside the gates. The guards pursued her with raised voices orderings her to stop, with their pole-arms extended readily as if to carve the air and provide an aerodynamic benefit. Either through willful ignorance or sheer determination, their echoed commands fell silent on her ears. The guards in chase would not let up and they continued to pursue her relentlessly.

Anya ran as fast and far away from them as she could. With the open terrain all around Caldera there was no where to hide, apart from one remote location, Silvasung Forest. The steepness of the mountains and soft ashen ground made it hard to maintain her balance and caused unwanted strain on her already starved body.

As she entered the forest and disappeared through the trees, and out of sight, the guards gave up. They looked on with disbelief and a strong sense of relief; in their belief they saw that she was no longer their problem. Their chuckled among themselves, as they holstering their spears and swords, and walked all the way up to their original posts.

Running such a distance was agonizing and was unbearable. Anya’s legs ached all over, her blistered feet were sore and had a few open wounds. Her chest was pounding, like her heart was about to explode. After a few hundred feet inside the forest she had tripped on an outcropping root, falling fast onto her stomach. Her face was covered in thick ash that was underlying beneath the leaf litter, almost caustically burning her heavy set eyes. She propped herself up, shaking through her straining arms, with almost no strength left. Staying on her stomach would have prevented her lungs from grasping the much needed air they hungered for.

She looked back, stretching her head over her shoulder and saw that her hunters where no longer in pursuit, she could no longer see the dark brown ashen hillside or the towering Calderan city gates. Only the summit was visible, barely, and the plumes of steam that poured out from the various vents that ran along the rim of the basin, as well as lower down the mountain where the few rivers of lava that erupted from around the volcano, carved through the landscape like fiery snakes meandering for prey.

The forest leaves were of the deepest crimson and were present all year round. When they had wilted they would flood the rooted-over and bolder scattered floor. A sea of blood mirrored the canopy of the area and was broken only the thick weaving trunks, their branches reaching out like pale hands for any spare food.

No one entered the forest willingly. In days before the Academy, rumours of the forest being alive or haunted were told, as childhood stories to prevent children from running off to an uncertain end. Stories and legends have always existed about there Silversung Forest, so much so that even the top scientists of the Academy have deemed the forest off limits. No research teams were permitted beyond its edge, as all previous attempts had been met with groups of Calderian Academy students failing to return from the deepest reaches. Their attempts to control the forest from overgrowing were constantly hampered, were it only not for the rivers of lava and areas where no ash fell stemmed their intrusion.

The tranquil serenity of the forest warmed her heart and calmed her mind. She could hear the wind rush through the leaves and all the panic that beset her since melted. The fresh air free from ash was invigorating. Knowing she could no longer return and having lost all desire to do so, she picked herself up and proceeded to walk further into the forest, using it as cover to get as far away from Caldera as possible. Hoping that once she finds the other side she would find a better life for herself. That was until, the hissing started.


Laura Steel © 2015

The Academy of Caldera

Edit* This piece was written before the character of Anya was established and as such may be different to more recent pieces.

The Academy’s newly appointed subsidiary; the Geneforge, would be the new avenue of scientific discovery. It’s crowned masterpiece. Along with the newly development of genetic manipulation equipment, and procedures to filter out flaws in new hatchlings. The young of the Caldera, would be altered to coincide with the intuitions believe; that true progress of their species was through forced evolution. This wasn’t widely accepted by everyone but the Academy of Caldera would undermine the efforts of anyone who would protest of otherwise hinder it’s creation.

Inside of a sterile laboratory chamber, sat centre back of the room, was a large cylindrical tank.Tubes and wires feeding in and extruding out from the top and sides, that melded the whole contraption into the wall. Filled with a semi-translucent green liquid with bubbles of gas rising to the surface. Held aloft with a mirage of tubes and mechanical arms, sits a large egg. The bright lights spread around the room illuminating every possible corner, make out the moving silhouette inside the egg. A new born in it’s final developing stages.

One of the scientist stood outside the tank, decorated more than the others to indicate his seniority. Taps in on the console a series of commands with his curved pointed nails. With the last press key stroke, one of the idle mechanical arms inside the tube springs to life. It’s end tool; a large hypodermic needle, coupled with a long tube slowly filling with a viscous liquid substance, a deep red in colour with an accompanying ambient glow. Injected into the egg with absolute precision. The display monitoring the process indicates it’s completion rate.

Moments later the new born inside starts twitching with an agonizing spasm, the creature writhes in pain unable to vocalize to it’s overseers. Displays showing the heartbeat of the newborn’s life would periodically slow, ending with a whining high pitched tone. Many of the scientists around the room sighed as their lead member punches the console leaving a crack, forking out from the epicentre of the impact.

Seconds later proceeds to press a large button prominently placed on the console and the process begins anew. The egg it’s released and is sucked through the bottom of the tank along with the liquid in to a black void, flushed away to be discarded like a half eaten piece of food, now unwanted and disposed of.

Afterwards a new egg shortly takes it’s place inside the tank which starts to refill with the same liquid as it’s predecessor, the mechanical arms grasp the new egg and the displayed promptly display a new rhythmic beating tone. The same process repeated once again as the room is again filled with activity. One example of the many failed attempts at the experiment with in the Geneforge that day alone and the look on the scientists narrowing faces suggesting it won’t be the last.

The egg that was given up so hastily flushed out, continues down a snake into the cities sewer. Bobbing upon the waters surface as it slowly drifts down to an unknown exit. Remnants of previous attempts discarded and abandoned to what ever creatures inhabited the foulness below the city streets.

There was no need for a sewer treatment system, most if not all refuse was simply dumped into the fiery bowls of the active volcano to be incinerated. Constant vents and columns of steam rose up leaving most of the atmosphere in this particular grimy biome hazed over with a dense fog that filtered up through to the city streets above.

There are residents of the sewer, beyond the the rodent, insects and crustaceans.A few types of life feeding on any scraps of food disposed of, that were unfit by the cities inhabitants standards. Many of the exiled mages and the homeless would live in the larger chambers of the sewer network, creating a self sufficiency subterranean society. Life her was hard but not impossible, the mages would use their power to create a habitual life for those who felt forced to live here.

The pre-hatched egg was chanced upon by a couple wandering the cities underbelly. They brought to the rest of the sewer-folk to be cared for, although many at first glance considered eating it until realising that inside the hatchling was still alive.

Protected from it’s harsh environment for month the hatchling would emerge from it’s hardened cocoon. It’s head pieced the shell, mucous and egg shell parts spilled over as one of it’s protectors clears it’s covered face preventing suffocation.

For year afterwards the young hatchling would be the focus of the undercities attention, because of the rarity of the occurrence of the event leading up to her discovery. Equating her as a saviour for the magic welders against their oppressors. She would train with the other mages upon realising that she possessed as innate level of magic, skill of which would take years for others to master.

She would not be able to live up to their expectations however as shortly after her twelfth birthday, the section of sewers she called home would come under attack from solders of the Academy. In the event of an emergency her adopted parents had an pre-made escape plan. Upon realising there was no escape, they sought to hide her in a pipe leading up to the surface.

While out of sight from the soldiers of Caldera who had stormed the place, they managed to seal their child away. The soldiers finally reaching her parents trained their weapons on to them and were gunned down in front of her. With their dying breath they issued a desperate blood curdled command to climb through the pipe to safety. With her reluctance the young girl done so and slithered away.

Upon ascending through the pipe she reached a drain cover, she prized it open to be blinded by the brilliance of Sol’s light creeping through the narrow gap. Recoiling momentarily in discomfort before exiting into an alleyway, away from the prying eyes of everyone but the old drake standing next to a makeshift bonfire. From here on out she would be alone with no one to trust she would be forced to fend for herself.