A Long Road

May 26, 2017

Black, oily smoke poured from his nose as he sighed. The view from the end of the pass looked down on the foothills of the Tarthian mountains and seemed to frame the village of Missran perfectly. The steep peaks of the houses, the domed Temple of the Law set into the mountain herself, and the humming of the Machineshrine built on top of their modest Vent. The only reason this town was here.

His pipe hung loosely in his mouth, working around the grimace he carried from the extreme cold of the mountain. The spines of his mecka seemed to twist and grind in the cold lately and the weight bearing on his leg didn’t help. His arm, at least, he could carry in a sling.

He grasped he cart jerked his head a bit to his mecka cart and headed down the winding switchbacks toward Missran, a filmy haze of greasesmoke trailing behind him as if to warn the others out there. The others in the deep pine forests spotted with powerful redwoods that seemed to guard the woods.

By the time he reached Missran he had to resort to his cane. It turned his normal hawkish stance into a huddled, shambling mass of coats and scarves that seemed to move at an uncanny speed. Driven by determination and spite for the onerous reality that is empty space.

“Drestin! Look at yourself! You’re a mess of pain and suffering and I could tell from the second you crossed my Threshold. Come in! Come in! Let me take a look at you.”

He grunted in acquiesence, pulling himself straight to look the older man in the face. “Thank you, Hashim, it has been far too long.” Drestin extended his hand, momentarily hooking his cane on the same wrist with a deft, practiced movement.

Hashim took the hand in a firm but caring grip, refusing to even tempt jostling the man’s obvious pains. “You will always be as a son to me, so even when you lay your head to sleep in my home I feel as if the distance is far too great. But yes, it has, and I see that your latest journies have come at dear a cost. As have mine, though, as I am sure you were made aware.”

He helped Drestin through the door of the temple, brining him to a comfortable chair in the receiving hall. It was a room of polished stone, as all Temples were made with the rocks that sheltered the Vents. The walls were hung with tapestries, depicting heroes of the Law in some with their resplendant beards and scarves decorated with their accomplishments, while others listed The Law in shining golden thread. Each entry was marked with the Lawbringer that had discovered it, tales expanded on in the Tasran that each of the priests carried. The room itself was richly carpeted in soft yellows and rich blues with comfortable chairs set around a warming table.

Drestin sat in one of these chairs while Hashim poured some whiskey in two glasses, bringing one to his adopted son. “Let me get someone to help you with that as well, chebi.” He turned toward one of the hallways that disappeared into the stone and called out, “Passa, come! Meet my sweet child who has come to help us. He also needs use of your skills!”

Dashing from what sounded like a back room full of tools and scrap metal came a rush of rosewood wrapped in khaki and accessorized with an inscrutible assortment of tools. Once the contraption slowed down, Drestin realized it was a young woman with black hair and rich, dark skin in a work coverall and the telltale eccentric kit of a Steamwright, one of the mechanics that went down into the Vents to repair Deus Mecka. Without the Steamwrights then Deus Mecka would grow sick and the miasma would eventually kill anything that was not a monster bent toward destruction and ruin.

She seemed to move through space in the same way a thought moves through the mind. Within seconds of seeing Drestin trying to relax she was kneeling infront of him and looking at the locks on the mecka on his arm, staying just far enough away to not be rude. “Oh my! Your arm needs quite a bit of work. If you remove it I can do that right now, it’d be my pleasure. And I can have someone come and take a look at your thigh, the way you keep shifting away from it you’re probably injured.”

Hashim’s body rocked with the laughter at her insistant enthusiasm while Drestin’s face fell to relaxed amusement. “It’s also mecka, my leg that is. And you’ll need to disconnect my arm as well, it uses nerve spines.”

She gasped, “Spines? Electrolocks are just as good and they don’t cause any pain or shock when disconnecting them, why in the name of the Machine God are you using spines?” Her hands had already deftly started releasing the pressure bands and various locks that kept his arm in place and steady as she spoke, using a small tool to wind the spines out of his flesh.

Between grunts of pain and winces he spit out, “I need the reaction time, vampyrs move far faster than most monsters and I cannot have a delay in my sword hand.”

At that she stopped, mouth agape. “Vampyrs?!”

Hashim stepped forward and placed a hand on the younger man’s flesh shoulder. “Yes, Passa. This is Dresten sha Varissa, my adopted son and a dhampir. He’s come to help us with the Duke.”

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