Rip this apart so I can build it.
The old man worked at his bench. He turned the screw driver slowly with a smooth motion from the hand of experience. He set the small device down on the workspace and twisted two more times. The small device started to shake, and from within, sounds came to life. Slowly, the device changed in shape, seeming to grow arms and legs. The old man pulled his spectacles up onto his head, smiling with delight. “You’re going to be the perfect companion.”
Peta ripped open her brown shoulder pack, shoving item after item inside, as she had every week for as long as she could remember. Her journal and pens, her prized rag doll and a change of clothing settled in to their familiar place, the bag holding them comfortably despite its modest size. From the kitchen she pulled some dried jerky, two apples, and a banana. Her grandmother would appreciate the banana, she knew, and she had fond memories of sharing jerky with them both when she was younger.
A quick check of the canvas of her bag ensured that the waterproofing still held. Shouldering her pack, she broke from the house at a run, the rain beating off the white dove adorning the center, the symbol of the Horus family, worn by her father, Knight Regent of Shattuck. Very soon, though, she slipped away in the drizzle, dissolving in a field of uncut grass.
The man with the sword returned it to it's scabbard, narrowing his eyes as he scanned his surroundings. Three highwaymen before him moaned, lay dying, just outside his view. With a deep sigh, he pulled his dusty cloak about him and continued to walk down the old road.
Gen found the old man’s house surrounded by half-men, moaning and weaving as they haphazardly and lackadaisically beat on the aging wooden door. A strange woman yelled from within the bunch.
The creatures turned on legs of shadow, and wended their way toward Gen, who had hidden in the brush.
“Please miss, I have no business with you. Leave me be.”
Gen was not yet a man. Close to, he was fond of saying, but he knew he had much to learn. Gen still knew; he would die shortly.
The woman in purple lifted a finger, ignoring him. “Bring him to me.”
As she turned her attention back to the house, the creatures grew closer and closer to Gen. As they closed, he noticed a roiling of the bushes behind the creatures. A wild scream came. A blade sliced.
The creatures snarled and yelled in chaos, as the man moved with grace. A slice here. A stab there. The half-men fell, one by one, cursing their executioner with darkened breath. The lady in purple moved swiftly towards this would-be hero.
“Begone, Diego! You disrupt my plans and I've need to be away. This is none of your business. The old man owes me something of value, and you need to leave.”
The man withdrew his blade from the final creature, that made a sound somewhere between a shout and a sigh. He wiped his blade clean on an old cloak and firmly placed it back in it's scabbard. “Surely, Strella, these people have nothing to do with your schemes. Leave? Oh, my dear – it is you that I have to ask to leave, else you see the result of my work a little more closely than you might desire.”
Gen found himself looking at the sky as a wave of energy knocked him off his feet, leaving him dazed. As he stumbled back to his knees, his eyes adjusted to a long blue bolt of energy leaving the swordsman's hand. It flashed as it streaked toward the lady in purple, but on impact it slowed, and flowed around the woman like a river's eddy.
“Your magics will do nothing against me, child. You'd best run while you are simply a bother. You do not want to see me angry.”
Diego let loose another bolt, much like the first, and moved to strike. His blade left its home quicker than Gen would dare to believe,and flashed as the bolt struck again. His blade, raised to the sky, was clean. Above him, the woman in purple was floating near the roof of the house.
“Okay, boy. You've made me angry.”
Gen found himself on the ground once more. This time, he thought it wiser to stay where he was.
Diego danced from left to right to avoid Strella's bolts, trying to get closer without becoming a target. He viewed her as far from a worry, a middling Magus - sorceress, if he were to grant her her chosen style. Diego had found a knack for running into her.
With a scream and a shout, Diego, jumped into the air, arms raised, blinding white energy formed in his hands.
“Strella,” he called. “You know by now you can't get far enough away from me. Please - be gone, before I’m forced to remove you from this plane.”
The lady in purple smiled, and faded from sight.
“I was hoping you’d see it that way, Diego.”
He looked around, then heard the scream. The girl was being dragged out the back of the house. Diego dashed through the meager garden to see two of the creatures, pulling the small girl through a green portal hanging in the air.
Diego made his way back around to the front, rushing to Gen's side. “Who are you? Where did they take that girl?”
Gen moved slowly as not to upset the man. “She's Sir Horus's daughter, Peta. We were going to leave for Port Orchard this morning.”
In fact, old man Horus had summoned Gen to take Peta to port. She was to travel to Xenia, the capital of Yeshiva, where she would attend school. Even as he told it, Gen found this request odd. The girl could be safely transported to port and dropped off in Xenia three days hence – what was the rush? But, he mused, there were more pressing matters to attend to.
“ I don't know if old man Horus is inside, or even alive. Please go check.”
The man with the sword slowly entered the house. As he passed from room to room, dust stirred around his feet,clouding his movement. Rustling from the back caught his attention.
“I'm alright, Gen,” rasped a voice. “Come help me up, please.”
The old man gasped in surprise as Diego rounded the corner.
“Who are you, sir? Where is Gen? He should have been here by now.”
“Your boy is outside, Horus. The little girl is gone. A Magus believed the child was important enough to steal. I tried to stop her. Let me help you up.”
Gen made his way into the house and called out, “Horus?”
“Come back here, boy. I'm just fine.” Gen stared at the old man as he pulled at his shirt and wiped the blood from his lip.
“Why did a Magus just steal away Peta, Horus?”
The old man looked up at Gen and smiled, “We'll find out soon enough, boy. We're about to go find her.”
Horus handed Gen a small brown box. “When we get to Peta, I want you to give this to her. It’ll come in handy once we've caught her.”
The old man smiled. “So who are you, my man? I suspect you're the one who handled those beasts. Not that Gen couldn't have. You just seem like the scrapping type.”
Horus winked at Gen.
“My names Diego Dao, sir. The Magus who took your girl is an old acquaintance of mine. If you don't mind, I'd like to take up with you two. I'd love another chance at putting her down.”
Gen came down from the second level with two big sacks over his shoulders. Horus looked on approvingly and grabbed one of them. “Everything here son? I'll need the tools once we're in port.”
“It's all there, Horus. I'd like to get this over with, sir.”
“Right. Let's be on our way.”
Diego followed the two men outside. “It's going to take a day to get to Orchard on foot. If you don't mind, I can have us there in moments.
Horus shrugged his shoulders, and Diego turned and ripped a slit in the air. More blinding white energy was moving from his hands. “Step right through. There's a small drop so be wary.”
Horus looked at Gen and nodded, “When we get to Peta, tell her to speak the word averte softly when that little box is needed.”
Gen looked at Horus quizzically and watched as he disappeared. Gen followed him through the hole, and Diego after him, sealing his slice in space as he went.
Children ran through the hard clay-covered square near the entrance of Port Orchard, dirty and scrabbling at the traders milling around as King Stillen prided in his port. The center of trade with the other kingdoms, Port Orchard lay in the middle of Medial, a gigantic bay, surrounded on all sides by sheer cliffs. His guard patrolled heavily and his stewards kept it clean. The streets were lined with clay, spotted with rich grasses. The port itself sprawled across the bay, the trading post spilling well inland.
“It's too bad we can't all go about making portals in thin air.” Gen sputtered between breaths, his stomach in a bunch.
“It's really easy if you've got the touch.” Diego smiled as he gathered his cloak about him.
The gates to Port Orchard were still open. Near dusk they would close. Without Diego's help, Gen and Horus would have easily slept outside.
“Diego”, Horus gazed into the port town, “Can you find out where that lady came out over here? It'd be quite handy.”
“She's come back into a residence, sir. She'd never risk a kidnapping where the king's men could see her escaping from a portal. We'll just have to shake down the locals.”
Gen pulled his pack up over his shoulder and made his way into Orchard. “I'm going to start near Ram's Way. The hoods will have information about half-men showing up here.”
Horus waved him off and started down another alleyway, “I'm sure you'll be fine without me, Diego? Yell really loud if you need me.”
Diego smiled in reply. He was starting to enjoy Horus' company.
“Get the girl inside the chest!Now!” Strella found her way through the room full of half-men to a desk near a window. Picking up a pen, she scrawled a few words down on the table top and they immediately disappeared. A few moments later,a reply appeared, curt and seared into the surface.
She does not have the Salistar. Take care of the Magus.
Strella moved from the desk and rapped the chest, “I know you don't have it, child. You will help me get it, though.”
Horus was talking up a man who seemed well into his later years when Gen rounded the corner, carrying a new sword and shield strapped to his pack. “Hey boy, I'm here. Ram doing well these days?”
“A blacksmith is always doing well, sir. Ram says doubly so. They've moved a regiment here to recruit and train more men. The king is expanding his defenses.”
The pack smacked with a loud clap as Gen tossed it on the ground. “I got a set for you as well. How good it will do I don't know.”
Horus laughed, “I'll manage, boy.”
Diego burst from the window, a bag in hand. He landed with a thud. Throwing the sack over his shoulder, he chose a heading and started at a sprint. “Horus! HORUS! It's time to go, old man.”
Half-men spilled from the building, from the windows, the front door, and more leaping from the second story window. Strella glared as she made her way from the hostel.
Diego raced past Gen and Horus, grinning, as the half-men followed closely. Horus pulled Gen back into the alleyway. “I told Diego to meet us back outside the gates. He's going to take us to Stillen's hold. We'll be safe.”
They ran as fast as they could, while screams from different parts of Orchard haunted them in every direction. Reaching the outside wall, they hid for what seemed like only seconds before Diego dashed out and to the left. Motioning to Gen, Diego lobbed the sack he was carrying, “Take the girl. Run. I'll catch up.”
Gen and Horus continued on into the hinterland of the port, leaving the gates well behind. Diego turned, just outside the open gates, muttering words under his breath. Energy pooled near his hands, and as the crowd of half-men clawed their way from Port Orchard, Diego let loose a wall of fire. Roiling and spitting, it formed into a gigantic beast, and began tossing half-men left and right, making short work of their ethereal bodies. The beast turned its eye on Strella, and she turned and vanished with contempt.
“Is she okay?” Diego was breathing heavily, covered in sweat.
“She's fine. Horus says you're taking us to Stillen. Make with the gate.”
Diego laughed through his staggered breathing. “We'll get there. It's just going to take a few jumps.”
Horus pulled the string on the sack and inside lay Peta, scared and red faced. “Come now, sweets, I've got you back. You'll be okay.”
Peta smiled after Horus and crawled from the sack. “Gen! I was so scared.”
Gen looked at the little girl with warmth in his eyes. “Peta, Diego got you back to us. You'll be fine now.”
Peta ran to the third man and hugged him tightly. “Thank you, sir. Thank you, thank you.”
Horus dug around in his sack while Peta composed herself. He found the small brown box and handed it to Peta. “I want you to put this in your sack, sweets. We're going to need it in the time to come. Gen, I think you have something to tell Peta.”
Once more, Diego ripped a slit in the air and the four companions walked through and away from Port Orchard.