The Eternals

The Eternals

Towards the outer rim of the known galaxy, lies a small sparsely inhabited planet called, by the residents, Valala. Covered mostly by water, one small island stood alone. As the thin, swirling, ocean mists parted, a large rock mass could be discerned, jutting out of the waters like the molar of a rabid hound.

On closer inspection, a rocky mountain trail can be seen leading from the impeachable shoreline. Follow the seldom used dusty trail over the first set of rocks and a sign comes into view.

“EVANS RETIREMENT HOME FOR ETERNALS”

Clearly announcing the impressive, rock built Castle and high walled gardens that nestle comfortably at the end of the path.

Waldorf was up to his usual stunts, dressed in slippers and a large, blue, chequered dressing gown. He was pushing the recently repaired mind scooter to its limits.

Hovering a foot off the ground his partner in crime Godfrey was timing his laps of the castle.

Waldorf was too old to be zooming recklessly. His long grey hair and beard trailing behind him with the ever increasing speed. He needed to improve his times. Godfrey sat in his bucket chair laughing and encouraging his old friend on his latest daring exploit.

Envious of Waldorfs vim and vigour, Godfrey would have loved to have the nerve and energy to chase. He had to make do with being the brains of the outfit and had refitted the old mind scooter, that he had found in the attic.

The other residents looked on in shame and outrage from the safety of the large glass conservatory, the two of them should know better and they were distracting them from their afternoon bridge tournament.

“OK Waldorf that was twenty-eight seconds from start to finish have a go at beating that my friend”

“No problem you old timer watch this” Godfrey held the stopwatch in his clawed arthritic liver spotted right hand.

“On your marks…….go”

“You’re meant t’say get set, you fool” Waldorf shouted behind himself as he sped off at a hell of a pace.

“Careful you Muppet” Godfrey replied slightly concerned as Waldorf turned anti-clockwise around the base of the south-east turret.

Waldorf was loving the thrill of the ride but he was pushing it a bit far this time, he had only just recovered from breaking both legs in his abseiling down the North wall! Disaster was not far away…..he sneezed! Turning the final bend, the scooter shot to the right and propelled Waldorf off to the left head first through the conservatory window. Crashing onto the nearest bridge table, with playing cards, glass, tea cups and old folk, flying in all directions.

“Oh my, Oh my” Godfrey wheeled his chair up to the crash site to survey the damage “Call The Warden Mavis!” Mavis was the nimblest of the bridge players and she shuffled nervously out of the door to find The Warden.

The Warden was in the orchard half way up a Bramley apple tree applying a bug strip around the trunk to stop the bugs from getting the buds before the fruit could ripen. He heard the commotion and made his way to the hospital wing of the castle speaking on his wristband intercom.

Ten server-bots entered the conservatory, eight of them arranged themselves around the prone figure of Waldorf and gently but mechanically lifted him off the table and led him through the heavy wooden door to the hospital wing at the back of the castle. The other two started to efficiently clear up the mess and mend the breakages.

“I think he’s dead again Cyril” Arthur shouted rather loudly as Cyril tended to be deaf and not keep up with events as astutely as he used to.

“Drunk?”

“No dead”

“Oh dear, well Warden will sort it”.

Godfrey mind-wheeled his bucket chair through the wood-panelled corridors concerned for the fate of his companion, worry showing on his normally easy to smile, wrinkly face. He arrived at the ward just as the bots were coming out “Warden! Warden! How is the old fool?”

“Ah Godfrey, he will be fine, come back tomorrow and he will be as good as new….well, alive again anyway, new may take longer.”

The Warden waved his hand in Godfrey’s direction.

“Oh, Okay then, I will come back tomorrow” Godfrey rode away with a glazed expression and went to the conservatory to join in the bridge game, which had re-commenced without much upheaval.

“How is he, Godfrey?” Mavis asked.

“Oh he’s fine he will be out tomorrow”

“That’s nice, I have a flush” She lay down her hand and the game carried on.

The ward was spotless, not a single mark or blemish on any of the surfaces. Kept hygienic and sterile by the bots. Waldorf lay on a bed, broken and bleeding. One bot stayed with him tending his cuts and cleaning his wounds. Another bot lifted a syringe full of mucus-like gunk and injected it into Waldorf’s chest, causing a muscle spasm and a loud groan from the instantly re-awakened body.

The Warden nodded, tutted, turned, and went back to the orchard.

The next day Godfrey was up early. Most of the residents were at the early morning swim in the luxurious heated indoor swimming pool and steam room. It helped to keep the old joints moving. He went straight to the ward with a box of Waldorfs’ favourites ‘jelly fruits’. When he got there the bots had applied bandages to every inch of Waldorfs’ badly battered body.

Two red, yellow and purple-tinged, bruised eyes peered out from behind the bandages.

“How do you feel old man?”

Waldorfs’ beard poked out from the wrappings and wiggled up and down as he spoke.

“I feel great my friend, get me one of those bucket chairs and I will be up and running in no time.”

At that precise moment, the Warden came into the ward pushing a chair.

“I thought you may want this Waldorf, now take it steady for a few days. Or until your bones mend together a bit at least. Greaves needs a hand in the planetarium and that should keep you out of too much trouble for a while.”

“Thank you, Warden, that is just what I was after.”

Waldorf gingerly sat up on the edge of the bed and the warden helped him to shuffle his backside into the mind-chair.

“I wonder if this chair is faster than yours’ Godfrey?”

“Don’t you start fool,” Godfrey replied looking uneasy.

The two old friends trundled off side by side, out of the ward and down the long brightly lit corridor, into the older wing of the castle. The Warden followed on behind, heading to the garden to mow the lawn, ready for the afternoon croquet tournament.

The planetarium was massive. It had a projection of any requested galaxy in 3D, projected onto the ceiling and by pushing the corresponding sequence of buttons from the command chair, could bring into view a holographic, life size, real time planet floating and slowly spinning in the centre of the room.

Greaves loved the planetarium. He spent all his waking time in there. Cleaning, dusting and working on shaping planets for inhabitation. He looked like a mad professor with milk bottle glasses. Wild grey sprouts of hair surrounded a shiny bald head. Not good with people, he looked on reproachfully as Waldorf and Godfrey entered his domain.

“Ah, hello Greaves, the Warden said we should keep out of trouble and see if you needed some help?” They knew that Greaves was better if you used the direct approach. Ask him a complicated question and you could be stuck with him prattling for days.

“The Warden did mention that you may be popping in.” He stopped mopping the already shiny floor and leant on his mop.

“I have the beginnings of an uprising on A6105, for some reason the Warden thinks you may be able to help?”

“We would be delighted old boy, remember that massacre on B1180 we averted with hardly any help? All we needed was a single emissary.” Waldorf looked questioningly at Godfrey.

“You up for it old man?”

“More than you I should say, you aren’t even capable of pressing the screen yet.”

They manoeuvred their chairs up to the console. Godfrey tapped in A6105 to the touch screen and the planet hologram appeared before their eyes, filling most of the room.

“Greaves, could you just slow down the rotation for a while? And give us a readout of the history.” Greaves approached the console and tapped a few letters and symbols. The planet slowed to almost a stop and the information appeared in mid-air next to the hologram.

“Good man, Thank you”. Waldorf and Godfrey sat silently, reading and zooming in and out of the hologram, carefully piecing together the unfolding story……..

“Well, I think we get the gist, don’t we?” Godfrey finally looked sideways at his bandaged friend who had fallen asleep with his head on his chest, drool trickling from his mouth onto his bandages.

“Too much for one day then my friend, we will put a plan together tomorrow” He tied a rope from the back of his mind-chair to the front of Waldorfs’ and towed him out of the planetarium and back to his room.

Breakfast was kippers, as usual, Sitting in the corner of the classical, rococo period dining room, the two men whispered in confidence. Not that it was necessary. Most folk there struggled to hear their own alarm clocks. Waldorf needed a bit of help cutting it up but managed to manipulate his fork awkwardly from his plate to his mouth.

“Sometimes my friend, the only time I feel safe is when you can’t get either of us into trouble.” Godfrey sipped his coffee, leaning back nonchalantly and looking relaxed.

“I won’t be in this state for long, old timer, but for now we have to consider the possible fates of that A6105 planet.” He just managed to avoid choking on a kipper bone.

“It is an interesting place don’t you think?”

“It has some very interesting inhabitants, most seem to be the dominant male type. With hints of megalomania. We need a young hero who we can prod into Heroism and save the day and the planet.”

“Well, that’s that then case solved.” Waldorf started carefully on his cup of tea.

“You know as well as I do it’s not that easy, we need a hero and an emissary. Any ideas?”

“Yes, my friend Godfrey I think I do.” With that, he finished his cup of tea, without spilling a drop.

The Luck And The Light

The noises from the wood were very raucous. As regular visitors to strange new worlds, Waldorf and Godfrey were accustomed to the unexpected. A flock of transparent bubbles with long trailing ganglia flew past them. The bot became very agitated and silently pointed at them. Mavis chirped up

“I think what the bot is trying to say is ‘don’t let the ganglia touch you, you may be dead in seconds’ I should know those are air- pods and I evolved them. It is nice to see some of one’s own work in its natural habitat. I wonder if my cat- men made it here?”

“You should be very proud Mavis those things look majestic,” Waldorf replied.

“Thank you, Waldorf. Are we likely to see any of your work here?”

“Maybe.” Said Waldorf. “Lately, however, I have only been working with sea creatures. My land animals tend to be a bit too dangerous for us to visit.”

“I do hope my flying spiders aren’t here,” Godfrey added. “I couldn’t sleep for a week after I thought them up.”

The air was calm with a scent of honey flowers. The sky was unusually blue.
*****
Read all 18 chapters of The Luck And The Light (WIP) on Wattpad. Follow Sincil Blake. Any help with the re-write much appreciated.

Chapter 18 Reptiles and Crystals

The residents didn’t get out much. Every fortnight Greaves from the planetarium organised an outing for all those that wanted a change of scene. Usually, Waldorf, Godfrey, Mavis, Arthur, several others and any new residents (Who hadn’t quite recovered from their disoriented arrival at the castle) would forgo their croquet afternoon to stroll on a different, new and unpopulated planet of Greaves’ choice.

It was with some excitement that they entered the planetarium laden with a packed lunch, binoculars, eye-cameras and a flask of their favourite tipple. Godfrey had made sure that his mind scooter was fully charged.

Greaves motioned them all to stand to the side while he created the trans-portal that was the doorway to their excursion.

Firstly the planet appeared in the middle of the planetarium spinning slowly on its axis. Greaves had programmed one of the larger server-bots to act as tour guide. Greaves knew his stuff but in communicating with others he tended to be a bit dry. This transferred into the server-bot produced a rather boring monotone which the day-trippers were too polite to criticise.

The planet stopped spinning and from a point of purplish land in its centre, it started to elongate to the floor. An archway appeared and the tourists entered the new world through it. The server-bot began with the usual safety instructions.

If anyone is experiencing difficulties please let me know and I will arrange for our immediate return to the castle. Please try not to kill anything. Please do not touch or eat anything unless unavoidable. This planet is called Extremis and it ranges from high volcanic areas to swamps and jungle. Please watch where you tread.”

They all waved goodbye to Greaves as they entered the portal. He gave his usual serious nod as the portal shut behind them.

Today he had picked a rather verdant jungle type planet that was home to many small mammals and colourful birds. He had made pains to ensure that the more vicious insects and predators had not yet been ‘evolved’.

The server-bot set off at a reasonable pace careful to ensure there were no stragglers. Once they were well underway along a tiny mammal-made track he stopped and pointed at the ground.

Here on this planet, we are attempting to ‘get away’ from the usual grass-like soil covering and experimenting with a robust hair like flora. It is mainly purple in colour. And can grow up to……”

Waldorf turned the bot to mute.

The others gave a small cheer and they continued their walk chatting happily amongst themselves.

The air was warm and pleasant. The volcanoes in the distance looked ominous but the party knew as long as they followed the server-bot they would be in no danger. They just had to put up with it stopping suddenly and pointing wordlessly at random things.

Do you think that Greaves knows you do that every time?” Godfrey asked Waldorf.

Yes, of course, he does. He tells me off every time we get back. The alternative, however, is for him to come with us and I do not think he would enjoy the socialising. I do know also that if any dangers appear the server-bot has an inbuilt alarm and if it flashes red then I should turn the volume back up.” Waldorf smiled mischievously. “Don’t concern yourself, enjoy the peace.”

Golden City (Part Two)

The three digmen made the crossing look easy. The bridge swayed precariously with the seven of them on it and Klem was unable to fully appreciate the magnificent glowing city as staring at his wobbling feet was foremost in his mind.

Many digmen greeted their arrival and ushered them into the central hall.

Amongst the welcoming chatter, Klem felt a brushing against his shins. Dorky looked up at him and pawed his kneecaps.

Thank the ever facing moons you are safe. It has been a very long time since I had pie crusts. Do you have any?

“No, I don’t. Maybe the digmen will make some very nice ones?” Klem stroked Dorkys silver fur.

I hope so. I have been eating beetle food since I got here it smells of bum wind and tastes worse. They do not understand me.

“Follow us. I think we are in for a banquet.” Klem had never realised how funny and endearing Dorky could be. It was strange how his mind-speak became clear away from home?

The Great Hall of Golden City was used to feasting and merriment. Platters of undistinguishable food were bought out by hooded servants who quickly disappeared once the tables were full.

The Digmen, Klem had noticed had hardly said a word. They smiled frequently but so far he had only heard a low level of grunting. Lorus seemed to be the chief and he walked to the centre of the large hall where a slightly raised circle of wood stone took centre stage. The wood stone had been carved intricately with faces and animals from all sorts of strange people and beasts. The Centre of the circle shone like an inlaid pearl. All the digmen turned to face Lorus and gave intense attention to his every word.

Not a sound was heard throughout the hall. The digmen did not waste words and every utterance of their chief was listened to with complete and utter concentration.

“We welcome Pendulum, Klem and Todd. They are the friends of Helder and the beast Dorky. We are thankful that we could save them from their dangers above. Campion will be their designated communicator and will answer any questions they may have. Enjoy the food, prepared below; drink some hush, before you go.”

With that, the digmen rose and clapped their hands in reverence to their leader.

Many smiles and nods and winks accompanied the feast. The digmen, however, were not ones for idle gossip. In fact, they were not ones for words full stop.

Exhausted from their captivity (and Dorky from his lack of wholesome sustenance) the five sat quietly at their table. Campion and Arnum ate silently with them enjoying the food and the company, as well as the jugglers and acrobats who were able to pull out the occasional ooh and aah from the difficult crowd.

After the friends had eaten, great tankards of sweet liquid were handed out. The hooded servants did their chores efficiently without any preamble. Klem presumed that this was the ‘hush’ that Lorus had mentioned.

Helder had not partaken of any of the food or drink and had quietly watched as the digmen had enjoyed the feast.

Dorky had been happy with the scraps of pastry-like crusts that had been dropped to him as he curled under the table.

Pendulum had been watching proceedings with awe, in fact, he found himself having to close his mouth in fear of looking overawed.

“I was unaware of the existence of The Underneath. I really thought I was quite knowledgeable about the nature of Agios and its inhabitants but I seem to have missed a whole realm. I wonder how much else I am ignorant about.” He said to no-one in particular.

Helder answered indirectly.

-We have been very well cared for here in the hub. They choose their words carefully and it seems to me that gossiping is possibly a crime here so I will be careful of what and how I say it. It is unusual to me that the womenfolk dress as servants and live ‘down below’. The men live on this level, with some dalliances down below but that is not the norm. They are in reverence to beings they call ‘The Glow Mothers.’ These beings tend the Glow Moths and other insects of the lower firmament. I have seen a Glow Mother only briefly, flitting around the glowing nests. I have heard of fairies on the vines but this is the first time I have understood their reality. So like you, my friend I am new to a major part of this realm’s machinations. I think our inquisitiveness may not be appreciated here so maybe not ask too many questions and let them keep their ways to themselves.-

Campion let out a grumbling noise as if he needed to warm up his vocal chords before he spoke.

“I hear your words Pendulum, my friend.”

Helder let out an audible gasp. Thinking that Campion could hear his mind-speak to the others. He had certainly aimed his thoughts at Todd, Klem, Pendulum and Dorky and would have been mortified to think that the digmen had heard.

The wizard noticed Helder’s distress with a look and picked up the conversation as if nothing was amiss.

“I have been so awestruck by your community that I have been remiss in offering my thanks for your rescue of us from that awful slave camp. I give you my heartfelt gratitude and I am sure I speak for all of us here in saying if there is anything we can do in return please just ask.”

Campion’s grimy lined face looked seriously at Pendulum and then the others in the party.

“We would appreciate it if you did not speak of our community above. We like to keep ourselves to ourselves and we dislike idle chatter as you have most likely noticed.”

Campion continued finding his seldom-used voice. His vocabulary increased by the lubrication of hush.
“We are simple people, we love to dig out our tunnels and build from woodstone. You should see our gallery. It is forever growing and is the centre of our community. Our works depicting the goddess are a sight to behold. Maybe I can show you them before you leave?”
“I think that would be splendid.” Pendulum answered for the group. “However, after our ordeal, we are exhausted. Your hospitality has been inordinate. We beg your leave until tomorrow.”
The hall was becoming perceptibly louder with the grunting conversations of the Digmen. The ‘hush’ seemed to have an opposite effect on them and loosened their usually stunted chat.
“It seems as if the evening is getting more interesting,” Todd said as the group were led through the main hall into a stone corridor of the west of the complex. As he said that, shouting erupted at a table to their left and various dinner type missiles were being flung across the room, none of which seemed to be in anger but mostly high spirits. Todd wondered to himself if this was how every evening in the Golden City ended up.
The rooms were simple. A large table adorned the centre of a roughly square chamber and the beds were slits neatly cut into the solid rock. Minimal soft furnishings were just enough to encourage sleep.
Dorky curled up on Klem’s feet and they seemed very happy to be re-united.
Helder and Dorky had carried all the belongings left behind in the forest and they were neatly stacked in a corner of the chamber. Klem had his bow back! Todd caressed the knife that Grimwald had given him and Pendulum traced the lines on his staff for a good long time before nodding off in the middle of rolling some spurt weed for his pipe.
It had been an astonishing day for all of them. Helder had saved the day and the feeling of togetherness was a relief. Maybe now the boys could get Pendulum to the healers in Pride and finally get on the road to Kings Port and their families

The morning seemed strange. Waking to silence and moth glow was alien to Klem. He had slept well but the stillness gave him a feeling of apprehension. It was a before the storm feeling. After all that had happened it felt like the beginning of a new chapter for him. The new day gave him chance to find his place in the scheme of things.
Both Lorus and Campion showed Pendulum and Helder around their gallery of woodstone carvings. Klem and Todd dawdled childishly. Dorky had gone off to say goodbye to his beetle friends.
The carvings were impressive but most were of the same thing. She was a fairy-like goddess in many states of dress and undress. Todd commented to Klem that the digmen “Should get out more.” Which made Klem chuckle. It did, however, ring true.
Klem realised that he could not live here in the underneath. It was too oppressive and a feeling of enclosure was creeping up on him.
“I will be glad to breathe some fresh air.” He lifted his face to the dankness. He pulled a grimace after his exaggerated breath.
“I know what you mean. But knowing these digmen may become very helpful if we want to travel the underneath for any reason. It may be a good idea not to offend them.”
“You are right. When did you become so wise? This is definitely a new day.” Klem smiled. He put his arm around his friend’s shoulders and led him off towards their new acquaintances. Feigning an interest in their carvings soon gave way to actual impressiveness.
Harnessing twenty beetles looked like hard work but the digmen were deft in their mastery. Once harnessed to the carts they made swift progress up the spoke of the waggon wheel that was labelled with the rune of a shield. They were heading for Pride.
Beetle power was just as exciting as freewheeling down. Half way up the spoke to Pride, Lorus halted the beetles and bade the party to alight.
“Friends, we have been happy to aid you to escape the Mangorian camp, but we realise that your way forward may still lead you into peril. We are a peaceful people but we have over the seasons amassed a very large armoury, most of which we have found in caves and buried in the underneath. We would be happy for you to take what you may need to defend yourselves. All we ask is that you keep our existence a secret from others.”
As they turned into a cave off the cart track they became dazzled. One moth’s nest was all it took to light the room. Swords, knives, bows, axes, shields, helmets and armour glimmered menacingly in the large collection of both ornate and functional weapons and armour.
Klem found a leather jerkin to protect him from both the cold and any blade or arrow. He decided against the golden embossed knife with a tarnished blade and opted for a simpler, very sharp looking knife with a functional belt sheath. He also found some very well made arrows for his bow.
Todd could not decide. All the swords were too big and clumsy. He was happy with his knife and sheath. He took a leather jerkin similar to Klem’s and after much deliberation decided on two silver metal wrist bands. They were not fancy but had a single green stone embedded in each and would prove good protection in any hand to hand combat. As well as looking good.
Pendulum needed a new robe and found a perfect fit in a deep blue. It had many pockets and still had mysterious gems, rocks and bags of powder. Pendulum was ecstatic. He didn’t know what they were but he was looking forward to finding out.
Helder already had visited this place when he first arrived and had been happy to find a very well fitting cloak. He now found a golden clasp encrusted with a rainbow of gemstones. It kept his hood tight around his face if he needed to be inconspicuous or attached to his shoulder if not. They all, more importantly, found some comfortable leather boots.
Their thanks were genuine. The digmen had been more than helpful. They owed them their lives. Their confidence was a small price to pay. Klem and Todd vowed to repay the digmen some way in the future. They were not sure how but they knew they were beholden.
Reaching the rim the cart stopped. The beetles were unharnessed and scampered off in different directions each with their own agenda.
“We are just outside the gates of Pride. We have no permanent risers here so must summon the caster if you wish to surface.” Lorus announced.
“Here would be fine thank you.” Pendulum sounded eager to see the summoning of the caster.
Lorus bowed low and with a smile at Campion, he began to chant and hum then sway, Campion, burst out laughing with a low chuckle.
“Don’t, please.” Campion held his sides.
Lorus stood up. Now he was laughing too. He reached for the chain around his neck and blew into a silent whistle.
“That should do it.” Lorus said.” Sorry people it’s a private joke. We do it to any outsiders. It amuses us. There is no magic here they just come to the whistle.”
The silent worm came eventually. When it saw them it took one look towards the ceiling and rose. It looked as if it just ate the roof, made a hole; the soil passed through its body and was secreted behind itself creating a spiral walkway upwards.
Fantastic thought Helder to everyone.
Agreeing, they walked upwards, clasping Lorus and Campion like brothers and thanking them again they made their way sedately out of the hole and looked upon the city of Pride. They were there before the Mangorians! How much time they had before the invasion, however, they did not know.