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Cause [1.4.10]

Denneb checked his wrist phone. It had been fifteen minutes since Mizar’s group had left. Time to get after them, at a comfortable pace.

He stood up slowly, but stepped through the edge without a second thought. A quick wade through the mire of the Reaches, and he was on an island, bound for wherever it was that everyone seemed to be going. In the distance, amongst the swirling miasma of colours that made up everything in the realm, he thought he could see Mizar, Lola and Fafnir on an island. It was hard to make the dots out, but he didn’t know who else it could be.

Above him, though he didn’t look up and confirm, he knew the dreadful black shape would be lurking. His mind flicked back to the dream he’d had the other night – the portent of doom, the destroyer of the universe, the demon… Antumbra.

Denneb hadn’t given the dreams any credit, until he’d had one himself. He had mocked the way Levan had described her sister’s terror at the dreams. But now… he had felt the terror himself. He hadn’t told anyone that Antumbra had visited him, and he’d tried to forget.

The black spot in the sky, ever-growing and omnipresent, was a harsh reminder.

Denneb tried to distract himself by checking his wrist phone. No messages, naturally.

He was confused. Before, he’d been a loudmouthed, intelligent braggart, the absolute authority on the Reaches, the universe and any philosophical idea known to Zion and Void. But now… which plan should he believe in? He’d allowed his plan to ahead, and with letting the others go, they could make their plan happen, should they safely retrieve Zack and Serafina. He knew his plan had weaknesses – the existence of the Universe Seed, how Antumbra was going to use up all the power destroying the universe – but all plans had weaknesses. He knew that opening the incubator and infusing the infinite energy with some kind of weapon could work.

At the same time… what the hell was Antumbra? A demon with the kind of excessive power to destroy a universe couldn’t come from nowhere. It had the power to influence things outside the universe, if the black spot and the recurring dreams were anything to go by. And yet there was no mention of the figure’s existence, period. No creature had become that powerful on any planet viewable by the viewports; even if it had, it would have needed a lot of power to escape the bounds of the universe itself.

So what was Antumbra’s origin? It didn’t make sense. Nothing short of ultimate power could be capable of destroying the universe… and there was no natural way a mere being could have amassed that kind of power without destroying their own body.

He glanced up at the sky. He wasn’t sure of anything anymore. But he knew – or at least, believed –  that Vasa was partly right.

An ungodly screaming pierced his ears. He looked up, spotting three lost ones converging on his island from three different places. With a sigh, he drew his sword and prepared to fight.

It didn’t take long to be rid of them. As the island sailed on, Denneb leapt at the nearest lost one, slashing through it with one neat blow. The other two were just clambering onto the island, and he charged the nearest one; it made a move to attack, but he cut the creature’s arm off before it could do any damage. He hacked at the lost one’s head, and it burst into nothingness. The final creature, with all limbs present except for an arm, was staggering towards him. Denneb turned and lunged at it. It lurched out of the way, causing him to stumble and fall to the ground.

The lost one turned, still screaming, and grabbed Denneb’s sword arm. He struggled, but the creature was strong. It moved, breathing heavily, until it was looking him right in the eyes. They were terrifying up close: glossy white orbs, with a spinning vortex in the centre. The further he looked into the vortex, the more it seemed to fill his vision with endless swirling, sucking him in, deeper, deeper, deeper… the lost one opened its jaw wide, wider than any creature should be able to, and began to close in. Deeper, Denneb saw the blackness pulling him in, and he felt himself being pulled along, deeper into the ever-swirling maw of shadows…

“NO!” he yelled, kicking the lost one in the stomach, sending it sprawling on the edge of the island. It lost the tight grip on his sword arm, and he took the opportunity to thrust his blade straight through its neck. With a gurgle, it gave a last feeble struggle and faded away.

Denneb spent a few moments sitting down, breathing in and out rhythmically. That was the closest a lost one had got to killing him, and it had deeply unnerved him. Those eyes…

After calming down somewhat, Denneb checked his wrist phone. He had to talk to someone about what had just happened.

 

hey. Can we talk? De

 

No reply from Alcor. Wonder what he’s busy with? Hopefully he’ll get back to me soon.

With a sigh of resignation and the island moving slowly through the colourful mire of the Reaches, Denneb prepared for a long, dull journey.

Cause [1.4.9]
Cause [1.4.11]

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