Awakening

Novel Excerpt: Space Gates & Lukas Shitting His Pants

Artwork by: Thomas Stoop

Above the fountain presented a blank image—shaped like an amorphous sphere, appearing fluid as if the space enclosed by metal brackets held a tiny fluctuating maelstrom leading into an everlasting void—emitting the eerie and sporadic bubbling tune from before.

“This one still works,” Alexandra confirmed.

“Here!” Lukas handed her an access card engraved with Andrastian symbols. “These will disappear after two uses, one to Hyperion and one back home.”

“Thanks.” The card activated at Alexandra’s will. It took a simple thought to trigger it, causing the card to shine and dissipate onto her wrist, activating a vertical align of numbers—or the set of islands Alexandra were allowed to travel to—adding “2” to the list.

“Okay let’s go.” Lukas led, performing the same action.

“Wait, I need to ask you something first.”

“Yes?”

“What do you think really happened to my brother? Was Andraste involved in the incident?”

“No,” Lukas denied. “Oracle Luther would never allow it. We’re still at war.”

“So, it’s not crazy to assume collusion?” Alexandra asked rhetorically, expecting Lukas not to answer. “I guess I’m alone on this hunch. Has anyone even met Luther? Why did Troy entrust him? What type of ruler leads from the shadows?”

“Our answers lie here,” Lukas promised, pointing at the Space Gate. “Alex,” he continued while gripping her shoulder, “Things will get better. Trust me.”

“What is it?” She scrutinized Lukas as he began to chuckle.

“Remember our first time accessing one of these?” He asked, waving one hand at the portal. “When we were like five.”

“Oh my god! When you shit your pants!”

“Hey!” Lukas shouted. His attempt to take Alexandra’s mind off the incident worked, even if it were just for a second. “I can’t help that it literally feels like all of my organs are pulled apart to be shoved back together again at the snap of a Gatekeeper’s fingers … I thought my ass got put back the wrong way.”

Alexandra couldn’t stop laughing. It’s not that bad. After a moment of silence, seeing Lukas smile back at her, she then watched him shrug and meander to the portal, scanning him with the intensity of a hawk. She waited until his body dissipated into thin air, her eyes following the particulate matter of his essence travel into the portal, into an image of Island Hyperion. It was a beautiful sight, but droning after a while, behind many travels.

She contemplated once no trace of Lukas remained on Hera: “My best friend, you may be wrong about this one. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for taking all of this out on you.”

Awakening

Novel Excerpt: Alexandra on Maven

Artwork by: jjpeabody

They journeyed back to the Baron district market, cutting many corners, attempting to retrace their steps from the day before.

A faint bubbling sound resonated the closer they approached their destination, exploring the Maven district, adjacent to Baron. It amused Alexandra, watching the dirt roads of her hometown morph into seemingly untrodden pathways, embellishments of salubrious grass on their fringes, the buildings transforming almost in an instant: from archaic and abandoned to lavish and gentrified. That was Maven—a sister neighborhood of luxury.

“Maven,” Lukas crooned. “Makes you wonder why Baron is the way it is.”

“Baron is fine,” Alexandra sharply replied. “This is all a façade.”

“Huh?”

“This place is no better than Baron. The people were the same, same customs, same ways of living. Same Arch-Mage. Just fancier surroundings,” She lectured at a halt.

Lukas scratched his head while briefly observing the scenery. “Seems like the Baron rebellion dragged Maven down as well. No one is here.”

Excerpt from: Awakening, Chapter 4 — Island Hyperion

Awakening

Novel Excerpt: Walter on Kingdom Andraste

Artwork by: Tim Matney

“The kingdom in the sky at war with the kingdom underground, and what lies between them: an inhabitable land.

“Centuries of harmony and prosperity marked the rise of Albion. The kingdom, once well known for its advanced technology and rapid growth in power, rested far north on Middleton, the central continent near Ashenland. At the time, mankind had endured and even prospered through pestilence, war, and environmental turmoil. Humans had never experienced the revelations of magic. The entity that created it, a force capable of causing tension among the most formidable kingdoms, had disappeared.

“Magic tore Albion apart. Civilians, who acquired the gift to harness elemental or arcane abilities, committed treason, led by our ruler, Troy Ulster—Arch-Mage of the Sanctum, Emperor of Andraste, and once a commander of Albion. The rebellion occurred quickly; Troy led hundreds of mages against Albion forces. After dozens of battles, Albion’s military planned to destroy the kingdom, so the two parties deliberated their final attacks. Troy, our liberator, assured our safety, and our enemy the same on their end, before the obliteration.

“After the war ended, our land was in peril. Engulfed by a mix of radiation and mana, the wasteland below us could not support humanity. The oppositions were split, the mages dwelling on floating lands, the Albion natives in underground cities. Our leader fell into a coma, people are calling it an eternal sleep, and his successor Luther is responsible for most of what Andraste is today. And if you asked me, I’d say we received the better of the two results.

“Who knows when the enemy will attack again? It can be today, tomorrow, or ten years from now. When it comes to our fate, better to die in battle than for the islands to come crashing down. Nobody knows what’s holding the islands up. Between you and me, I think it’s not only Troy, but also the work of a god. Anyway, that is about all I know. Wake … Wake!”

Excerpt from: Awakening, Chapter 1 — The Drop Count