A Meeting of Two Monarchs
The Queen was finally in Her new home. The Myrmidons were overjoyed at the return of their mother, and a great festival was held. And a bountiful feast of papili was offered in order to restore Her energy. Genesis was now officially a hive, now that it had a Queen. Even still, there was much to be done, for Eternal's coming to meet Her. The Myrmidons' focus was on the mines and the Northern parts of the isle. Mounds were made in the ravine to be the base of mining operations, and pawns went to dig into the earth. The island is resource-rich, and a great multitude of metals were extracted. More pawns, still, were working on something huge. The thing was a colossal complex of webbing mounds towering above the ravine below. This was the foundry, a monumental workshop of forges and molten metal flowing into casts. Before long, an array of humanoid statues sat, lifeless on the shores of Genesis. The iron, brass, and bronze golems were ready for Eternal's arrival, but the Queen was still down below. She said that She had a project of her own, but that it would be ready before he arrived. The only thing left was to signal him.
Mouthpiece had woken up to his green, slime-like concoction as with any morning before, and he had gone at dusk into Secunda through one of many subterranean tunnels in order to monitor the streets. Myrmidons were inexplicably going missing in the night, and he was stationed on the rooftops, bow in hand and ready to put an end to this. At least he was, before a bishop flew loudly onto his rooftop. The commotion had brought a few sleepless individuals into the streets, and the both of them were immediately seen. Mouthpiece couldn’t help but feel frustration at being outed as such, but he knew that whatever the bishop had to say must be more important. The Myrmidon chittered at him and signaled for him to get on, for they were heading to Salina. The two took off into the sky, and were far away from chaotic Secunda.
The bishop brought Mouthpiece into a tall tree just outside of the Aiolian capital. It had a small, wooden platform built into it's canopy, where it could not easily be seen. The bishop then pointed out the several myrmidon effigies lying on highpoints in the forest, and provided him with an arrow with an oil-doused rag at the tip. The marksman, Mouthpiece, ignited the arrow and sent it straight into the heart of the effigy. The thing soon caught ablaze and burned so brightly it could be seen from anywhere in Salina. Their job was done, and Mouthpiece mounted the bishop for the return journey. With the effigy lit, Eternal knew to head towards Genesis. All the myrmidons could do now was wait. He would be a week by the Diolkos, and it would give the myrmidons plenty of time for any additional preparations.
Soon after, the citizens of Secunda rejoiced at the coming of their overlords. He had arrived in a magnificent golden palanquin with a regal purple clot covering all carried by two ornamented iron golems. The drawbridge dropped, and the ruler proceeded to Genesis. The golems brought him to the crowded agricultural district. He emerged from the palanquin and stepped into the crowd, only for them to brush past him in favor of their work. In frustration, Eternal shouted at the Myrmidons to bow to him. “Insolent subjects! You will respect your ruler, puny insects!” A small crowd of the workers gathered around him in response, investigating him. Within an instant, five of the workers disintegrated and lightning struck the ground, sending the rest away.
Mouthpiece was drawn from his spire by all the commotion, and he met Eternal on the ground. “You've finally arrived, my Lord. Welcome to Genesis.” To which Eternal retorted “I've only just arrived and I’ve had enough of it. Your workers, your subjects are barbaric and disrespectful.” Eternal glared at him “Do you want to know how people really learn the error of their ways?” Eternal walked angrily towards one of the knocked over pawns and lifted him by the neck, hand radiating a purple glow. “Take your bow and punish him. Punish him so that everyone can see!” Mouth stood over the two, eyes locked with Eternal's. He shook his head “Vassilias, I cannot shed the blood of my brethren” Eternal stayed in his position for a moment, looking at the struggling Myrmidon pawn. Finally, he stood up again, his hand stopped glowing, and the air became brighter around him. “Fine, you're right, I cannot expect that of you.” He released the pawn and it scurried back into line With the other workers as if nothing had ever happened. With that, the ground lightly quaked and a low growl was heard from the depths below. “You must go, my lord. The Queen Beckons.”
Eternal descended into the ravine below, heading deeper and deeper into the earth. Finally, when it seemed the world couldn’t possibly reach further down, he saw the great halls of Her lair. Eternal walked down the corridor and , for the first time, met his host face to face. The Queen was truly massive, easily being hundreds of meters in length. She had two enormous hands, with four slightly smaller legs dipping in a large pool of a viscous green liquid. Idols and statues lined the walls of the lair, with 2 cube-like monuments towards the anterior, filled with smaller charms and fetishes. To the left and right stood colossal stone tablets with some otherworldly script having been carved into it. What was most intriguing was the ceiling; however, from which was hanging an enormous, pulsating pupa. The monstrous chrysalis had a feint orange glow to it, and undulated all over in irregular, unpredictable patterns. The Queen caught Eternal gazing at the cocoon and boomed “That is a surprise for later, my esteemed guest. For now I am your host, and we are gathered to discuss business… There are a few topics I do believe you'll be satisfied with.”
In Her standard chittering, clicking, and buzzing voice, She stated.“The first of these is the successful creation of Queensland. With my new colony, the countess shall be able to do business in Salina. Food is an import for your people, which is why Queensland shall do what it can to feed the Aiolian people. Markets shall be made where your merchants can gather impressive stocks of exclusive Myrmidon goods. The land you’ve gifted me is going to good use, I assure you.”
Eternal reflected on this for a second. The people would not have to rely on foreign mariners in order to eat their daily bread. Fed servants are less angry servants, and attention on such starving and unruly citizens can be better applied elsewhere. Additionally, Salinian merchants would corner the market on myrmidon exports such as webbing paste and chitinous jewelry. He looked up to the gigantic Queen and stated, satisfied “This is indeed good news. Our merchants will be the only source of your exports in all of Candarion. Is this all you’ve gathered me for, however?”
“No. There has also been a development with the laboratory.” She said. “A development, you say? Enlighten me, please.” “Of course. My myrmidons have scoured the facility through and through. A few days ago, however, we found a tome deeply hidden in the ruins. From what I've read so far, it concerns the nature of the soul and mind. The alchemists' knowledge may still aid your golem making.” “Hmm. How intriguing. I thought I had siphoned all the knowledge they had. Even decades after death, they still have plenty of tricks up their sleeve.”
Eternal continued, “This has all indeed been good news. If that is all, I shall leave now.” To which she said “Not exactly. Golem production is well underway on the surface.” At that moment, the cocoon on the ceiling undulated violently and an echoing screech came from within. “I suppose that brings me to your surprise, Vassilias.” She snapped her great fingers and the cocoon suddenly ruptured. Tons of some clear, green and yellow-hued liquid rained onto the cavern floor below. Just behind the liquid, a large, amorphous mass splattered onto the ground. “I wanted you to meet my newest child. What more can I give to the lord of this land than the gift of life and creation?” From the slowly-flowing mound of slime, the mass rose, forcing the liquid to flow further outwards. The thing was truly monstrous. It was a mountain of Myrmidon flesh, an amalgamation of dozens of Myrmidons from all different castes. Every specimen trapped in the body screamed out at irregular intervals, each more ear-splitting than the last. It had four enormous legs that supported the front of the body, with countless pairs of tiny, spindly legs barely holding up the posterior. The thing's back was a patchwork of myrmidon carapace, with numerous spikes protruding outwards. The body had eyes all over, and spare limbs twitched and fidgeted on its mass. What stood out, however, was one colossal arm. It was nearly as long as the beast itself, and it clearly struggled to keep it in the air, opting instead to drag it on the floor. The arm had fragments of carapace surrounding its eyes, and ended in an enormous three-fingered hand of sorts.
The Queen called to her creation with a sense of pride and some twisted affection “Come here, my baby, I want to hold you.” The creature dropped onto the floor, legs spread out so as not to drag, and the massive thing slithered up to the Queen. She held Her creation in her arms and started to groom it with her mandibles. The thing's screaming quieted, for once, and a low buzzing could be heard from the both of them. She finally drew her attention from her spawn to Eternal. The thing’s arms and vestigial legs grasped at Her the entire time, but She said “This is my newest child, the Myrmidon channeler. I have created the perfect physical specimen to withstand and direct magical energy.” Both of them paused for a bit while the abomination whined and clawed for Her attention. “I wanted to be able to awaken the golems we create here without relying on your occasional visits. I only ask that you give some of your magic to my creation.”
Eternal stood back. Even he was mildly horrified at the grotesque spectacle he’d witnessed. He was silently staring at the thing and the Queen, alternating his gaze between them. “Why should I give this monster more power?” She glared at Eternal and he looked at the thing. Suddenly, She slammed both of her fists into the ground, making the entire island quake with Her power. The thing was deeply frightened and scurried behind Her. “You will not talk about my children that way!” The room was silent, Eternal reeled from the power of the blows to the island, and he quickly apologized. “I did not mean to offend you or your.. Child. Please continue, my host.” The Queen chittered to her creation and took it into Her arms, comforting it. She looked at Eternal and started again. “Anyways, Vasillias, we will double your golem production, easily. Not a single Aiolian will go without the servitude of golems. We will win your wars and build your cities with our supply of golems. In fact, I have 30 metal golems waiting for you on the surface.” Eternal stood still for a second, thinking about the situation. After some thought, he finally came to a conclusion. “So be it. I will give your child some of my power..”
The Queen clicked towards Her creation and it quickly scurried up to Eternal. It circled him three times and examined every inch of him. Finally, it laid down in front of him, eyes fixated on him. It loudly buzzed and soon began quietly screaming again. Eternal's hand began to glow purple, and he placed his hand onto the flesh and said a few words of power. The magic began to transfer from Eternal into the creature. Suddenly, however, the flesh wrapped around Eternal's hand and he couldn’t pull away. He yelled to the Queen and pulled as hard as he could, finally breaking free with a small burst of magical energy. He knew the creature took more magic than it needed to. She played him and he knew it. He'd just have to come back later to settle the score. The Queen studied Eternal from Her pedestal and She said, “We have both upheld our bargain, we are done here.” “I am truly glad that we could meet before I retreat to Lipari, Queen.” Then the thing approached him and, for once, spoke. It’s voice was 5 voices speaking in a cacophonous, discordant rhythm slightly desynchronized. It came to Eternal's side and uttered “HAVE A SAFE TRIP HOME.”
Eternal then started away from the two Myrmidons. Even as he was leaving the chamber, he listened to the screams of the channeler and the consoling voice of its mother. Before long, he was sitting in his palanquin again carrying a weathered, ancient tome. His two golems carried the palanquin like before, but thirty metal golems followed behind in rows of five. Seeing the thirty golems following him, he knew this meeting was far from a waste of time. He reflected briefly on the meeting and headed towards Salina once again. He felt slightly weakened from being drained, but still felt powerful. Surely he could forgive the actions of a newborn, if you could call that a newborn, who doesn't know any better? Eternal would stop at Salina for the golems to find new masters and to do upkeep on Salina, but he was eager to get to his laboratory in Lipari. He had so much to do.