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Synopsis

Honey takes Orpiment and the drunk to the place where rebel skills and ingenuity forge into one.

Plot

What’s this… Feeling?


This lightheadedness is driving Orpiment insane. He can’t move, he can’t see, he can’t hear anything. Just emptiness.

Is this what honey does to you?

Did the drunk waste his time?

He slowly regains vision, finding himself in a room with cobble walls, wooden flooring and an oak desk with a candle on it. There is someone at the desk, slumped over a letter, writing frantically.

Orpiment suddenly regains hearing as the figure gets up and starts reading the letter to himself.

Dearest Obsidian,

This letter is an invitation to you, for your attendance at the General Council. The meeting will commence in a week, at 5 PM, at the Sea Spire, and I hope that you will be there. Bring 5 black steel swords.

Sincerely, your comrade at arms, general Sard.

The figure, apparently named Sard, nods to itself. Yes, this was good. He proceeds to repeat the process 2 more times, for the gems bearing the names “Bixbite”, respectively “Amatrix”, with different instructions as to what to bring for each.

As the third letter is complete, he grabs them, giving each a red wax stamp, before walking to a little window in the cobble wall, with three bird-nests near it, one bearing a hawk, one bearing a crow, and one bearing a sparrow.

Obsidian’s letter goes on the crow, Bixbite’s on the hawk, and Amatrix’s on the sparrow. All three birds fly away to lands unknown.

Orpiment can feel himself getting tugged towards something, tugged outside, toward the window. Instead of hitting the wall and being unable to fit through the small hole, he phases right through and appears to be following the direction of the tired, lazy crow.

Looking back, he notices the location that he escaped from. A small, stone tower on a hill, overlooking a gem battlefield.

This is odd. Why is this bird taking him away from the action? He shakes and struggles, but he cannot break the seal keeping him attached to the crow, and soon gives up trying. For two days, the crow flies, yet to Orpiment, he only gets the feeling that barely a minute passes.

Finally, the crow stops to rest on a tree branch. The branch of a tree that was overlooking a huge ravine in the ground, barely keeping itself from tumbling in.

Makes sense. After all, Obsidians are created near lava, and lava is most commonly found underground. The crow takes a dive inside the ravine, pulling Orpiment down with it. Once at the bottom, he starts to glide around, looking for something.

He delves into a hole in a wall and bobs around through the claustrophobic little tunnel, held up by the smallest of brambles and branches, probably that the crow set up. After a quarter hour of crawling through the barren tunnel, a light appears at the end.

The crow flies out, and Orpiment suddenly feels the blistering heat on his skin. Below them, flowing rivers of magma. Above them, sparkling stones in the ceiling of a massive underground ravine.

Looking forward, he sees a huge, cobblestone castle, with support pillars attached to the walls of the ravine, so that it may not touch the magma. From it, a tall, imposing smoke-stack belches out noxious fumes and smoke that seeps away through the cracks in the ceiling.

The crow lowers toward the bottom of the suspended structure, where a small platform hangs mere meters above the searing magma. It perches on a little pole, made specifically for it, and waits. Soon enough, a tall, black figure cloaked in robes and aprons and wearing a welding mask walks out.

Without noticing the crow, he kneels before the ledge of the platform and extends his hands into the magma, waiting to accumulate a nice amount of molten slag in his hands. After that, he pulls the cupped fists, holding the lava away, completely unphased, and looks at the crow.

“New message.” he murmurs, as the crow flies on his shoulder and enters the structure with him.

Orpiment instantly noticed the odd lack of people. The castle was huge, almost enough to fit in 50 gems, yet.. This blacksmith worked all by himself?

He pours the slag into a mould and takes the letter, reading it silently. The crow flies away, but Orpiment remains.

“If it’s 5 swords he wants, then 5 swords he’ll get.” the figure shouts, and all machinery in the castle suddenly springs to life: gears turning, steam flowing, coal burning.

By now, the molten slag cooled to a semisolid, which the figure, who is apparently Obsidian, dumps onto an anvil and starts to hammer at it, creating a long, thin sheet of metallic alloy. He grabs the sheet and puts it on a chain.

He removes his glove and his terrifying claws appear. He stabs one into the sheet, slowly pulling it down, ripping off even thinner sheets of metal, which he places in their moulds and lets them sit.

After 2 hours, all metal has hardened, and now just has to be polished. He painstakingly hand sharpens each one with his claws, until they are sharp enough to leave a dent in a stone block.

The final step now occurs. He leans over each sword, and adds a touch of gem magic. He lifts up his welding mask, revealing his mouth, out of which a small cloud of darkness emerges, connected to each sword.

This step is the trickiest, since the gem magic offers the sword semi-sentience. Adding too little would have no effect, whilst adding too much could give the sword a mind of its own, which no swordsman would want. The sentience allows the sword to do things like block and parry attacks on its own, without the gem’s input, and also stops gems from harming innocents, which is a good perk to have in the chaotic army of the rebels.

He carefully gives each sword a small amount of gem magic, turning each of the blades black, and making two, beady little eyes grow on their sides, that look around.

Finally, the swords are complete. Five black steel swords, all ready to be delivered to whoever needs them.

Obsidian carefully wraps a cloth around each and ties them up, ready for shipment. Without any more work to do, the machinery slowly stops functioning. Gears stop turning, the infernal furnaces stop spewing smoke, and the clicking of the clock slowly grinds to a halt.

Obsidian walks toward a small balcony and starts to stare toward the hot magma river, awaiting patiently for another request from those on the surface.

Slowly, Orpiment can feel his vision fade, just like when he took the honey. It all turns back, and when the vision fades back to normal, he’s sitting on the same pile of rubble from earlier. The drunk beside him is waking up as well.

“That was.. An experience.” he says.

“Same time tomorrow, I’ll show you the other letters.” the drunk says, getting up from his comfy pile of rubble.

“Tomorrow, here?” Orpiment asks.

“Yes. The Crescent isn’t safe when it comes to honey.” the drunk says, walking out.

Orpiment follows.

Both appear oblivious to the two red darts placed in the backs of each other's necks...

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