Beneavolence and Malevolence
The small meerkat-kin standing on top of the equally diminutive podium in the middle of the Internodal One pursed her lips as she saw the distant shadow of a flying creature appear over the horizon. As it grew closer and closer, she sucked in a big breath and exhaled, then waved her arms, both of her hands holding a blue and white flag in them. Her tabard, painted in the same colours as the flags, flowed wildly in the gusts of wind that washed over the land, caused by the approaching dragon’s powerful wings even though it was still somewhat far away.
“E-Excuse me!” She shouted in a high-pitched, almost creaky voice. “Please land! Land!” The request was as hopeless as her career, she realised, but rules were rules…
“It’s dangerous ahead!!” She shouted again, waving the flags even quicker.
At her words, the dragon changed direction and sent a raging wave of wind right at her. The sharp torrent not only forced her eyes closed, but pushed her back and off her podium until she was on her back sliding across the rough cobblestone road, unable to see what was happening past a blob of movement and unable to sense much past her own desperate attempts to hold onto anything so she wouldn’t be blown away. It only got worse as the dragon landed with an immense quake. Only after everything settled did she manage to shakily get on her feet and get a glimpse of the travelers.
“Well, hello, dear,” Benea smiled from atop the dragon’s head, somehow sitting on a chair perfectly balanced on the scales.
“A-Ahm… Uhm…” The young girl stuttered for so long that eventually she just sighed and walked back to her podium, climbing on top with just the slightest difficulty. There, she opened a hidden compartment and knelt down to reach into it.
“S-So. I don’t have a mask big enough for the flying crocodile…How many are you? Y-You all need to wear masks. It’s plague s-season around New Dama.”
“Plague season?” Benea scoffed. “I’ll fly in alone then. I’m here for your node, dear, care to show me the way?”
The girl pointed down the lonely road, towards the horizon where one could see sickly clouds of green and black. “O-One day’s walk that way. Flying…” She furrowed her brow in thought for a second. “Maybe half? Wear s-sunscream.” The girl said and took a small glass container from her stash and offered it to Benea.
Benea gave the girl a pitied smile. “I think it’s best you keep it, dear.” With little else, the dragon wafted its mighty wings and shot Benea up into the sky with a blast of wind.
“Yo, is that what I think it is bro.” Asked a labrador-kin of his colleague, another labrador-kin who stood next to him, guarding the entrance to the (newly renovated) Temple of the Bronzed Bloom.
“Uhh… Like what, bro? A bird?” Responded the colleague after a few seconds of observing the slowly growing shadow traveling towards New Dama.
“Nah bro. It’s like…” The first guard furrowed his eyes, tail standing at attention. “... a big alligator.”
The second guard chuckled. “Good one bro. Alligators don’t fly.”
“This one does bro.”
The first guard huffed and shrugged.
Eventually, the shadow grew close enough so that details of the creature could be clearly discerned. As panicked whispers arose from the market surrounding the temple’s entrance, the guards looked at the skies once more.
It was the first guard, who was armed with a crystallista, that spoke first once more.
“See bro? Flying alligator.”
“... Nah. Must be from the plague fumes, bro. Hyaluminations or whatever the leafheads call ‘em.” The second guard shrugged.
“Bro you dumb.”
Even more time passed. It was only when people began vacating the market, and when stalls and furniture started to be knocked over by the wind shockwaves of a landing dragon, that the first guard spurred into action.
He shakily jumped behind the arch he was guarding and pointed his crystallista at the dragon, mostly blindly due to the sheer density of the gunk that had come to coat his mask’s visors thanks to the dragon’s landing, and shouted.
“BRO TAKE COVER! IT’S GONNA TRY TO EAT EVERYONE, WE GOTTA TAKE IT DOWN!”
With that said, the first guard shot his crystallista bolt, designed to be powerful enough to blow an entire Otori squad to bits, at the dragon. Then the dragon snapped its head and ate the bolt whole.
Half a moment of silence ensued. Then the second guard spoke.
“Yo bro I think the alligator is real.”
“Hello, darlings!” Benea was standing atop her dragon’s head with a new drink in her hands; something minty green with a citrus garnish. “I’m here for that node of yours, and a chance to talk with whoever is running the show.”
“Brough… There’s a lady on top of the alligator...” The second guard said breathlessly, still not moving an inch from his post.
“... I think I’m gonna shoot again bro. She’s clearly plague-crazed. She’s drinking a whole lemo-”
“STOP! STOPP YOU DUMB DOGS!” Screamed a deep voice from inside the temple, followed by the big heavy doors being blown open by a kick. It was a large bull-man, wearing a golden collar and a majestic set of bronze plate armour. The man stomped his way over to the two stunned dog guards and slapped them over the head so hard their ornamental helmets flew off into the market, to be immediately snatched by some random outlaws that crawled out from the sewers.
“YOU JUST SHOT AT A GODDESS, YOU IDIOTS!” He bellowed again.
The guards shrunk back and shook in their boots. “B-Boss, we thought-”
“THOUGHT?! YOU CLEARLY DON’T-”
“Sun-Downer, that’s enough.” Came another voice, this one much quieter and clearly female in origin. It rang out from inside the temple. “Please show the Beneavolence Rep to the Altar.”
After taking a deeeeep breath and giving the two fools the stink eye, Sun-Downer knelt before Benea and her dragon and motioned towards the temple. “Please make your way inside, lady. No alligator, please.”
“Oh very well, sweet thing.” Benea walked, on air, all the way down to the cobbled streets and took another sip at her drink before handing it to one of the dogmen. Jermane quickly caught up and pushed himself between his Queen and the others, his own glare being even more intense than Sun-Downer’s.
Inside, the atmosphere was different. Literally. The air was cleaner than outside and smelled of lavender, it was completely free of the green-gray gunk, and the temperature was much cooler and rather refreshing. Besides that, the furniture inside the main hall of the Temple wasn’t too impressive. Cushions of many different leathers lined the hall and hanging chandeliers kept the area lit up, a soft hum emanating from them. At the far end of the hall and protected by a line of heavily-armoured plant-kin guards wielding axes and tower shields was an impressively crafted altar resembling the blooming petals of a rose, cast in bronze.
Sitting on that altar was a form that seemed almost dwarfed by the grandiosity of the hall.
“Welcome to New Dama. I’ve been awaiting your arrival.” Said the form. Her green skin, black eyes and leafy head of hair glistened with moisture as a pair of servants much taller than her sprayed water at her with their glass bottles. Truly, she resembled a rich teenager more than a seasoned ruler.
“Indeed?” Benea flashed a big grin, before flickering her eyes to every inch of the room. “Shall I be offered a seat, then?”
The ruler waved a hand over the entirety of the hall, her gold-laced dress’ sleeves pooling around her shoulders as she did so. “Take your pick. There are cushions everywhere.” She said and turned to one of the servants. “Bring them something that their people can drink.” The servant nodded and, after hooking her bottle into her belt, disappearing into a side door for but a moment before emerging again and pushing past the line of soldiers to offer Jermane and Benea a glass vase full of crystal clear water.
Benea furrowed her brow and Jermane stepped forward. He stood up straight and announced. “This is Queen Benea of three cycles, born Olipha. It is customary to stand when addressing her as she stands and sit only after she sits.”
Before she could act on the growing scowl on her face, the servant remaining at her side whispered something into the Ruler’s ear. “Oh? For real?” She asked, to which the servant nodded her head with but the slightest quiver in her leaves.
After that, the ruler carefully slid off the Altar and stood up straight, the pair of bells hanging loosely from her neck ringing as she moved.
“I am The Orbita, The Fourth Bronzed Bloom, and Representative of the United Daman Clans. It seems I mistook you for a… Whatever.” The Orbita then motioned over the entirety of the Temple Hall. “You may take your pick of our available seats.”
“Fantastic, dear!” Benea was smiling again as she fell backwards into the comforting plush of a birch woven chair that had suddenly appeared. It was speckled with emerald and had the faintest perfume of the forest hanging off it but most importantly, it was brighter and bigger than every other seat in the room. “Now to cut to the chase, sweet Orbita, everything you know is about to be wiped clean. Gone, I dare say, completely gone. Your thoughts, memories, your land, your nation, everything, poof. I’m sure you noticed the crack in the sky by now, darling, but worry not, I’m here to prevent that fate from befalling you. Isn’t that just great?” She clapped her hands together and gave a wide grin.
“Yes we’ve noticed the crack in the sky. The Daman Peoples believe it’s a bad omen from when we imprisoned Eleanna, but we know the truth from the news brought to us by tourists and wandering Paladins.” The Orbita explained before carefully climbing onto the Altar once more. “Now tell me, why would we want this world to be saved? It’s so dangerous and boring…” She trailed off, slumping against a bronze petal.
“If you think that’s boring, try not existing, darling.” Benea frowned and crossed a leg. “And despite that, there are millions of other lives that would rather not.”
“Don’t get me wrong, Benea. Not just as The Orbita but now as the Bronzed Bloom, I can’t stop someone from chasing a dream as dumb and far-fetched as saving this world is. Plus, even if the entire garrison stationed in New Dama now were to attack your dragon, I doubt we could take it down. So do as you like and leave us be. We have more pressing matters to attend to at the moment, like making sure our citizens don’t choke to death or grow extra limbs from the Alchemical Ash.”
“Jermane, dear,” Benea smiled softly at her guardian. “Could you please explain exactly who I am again?”
Jermane stepped forward again. “Queen Benea is-”
“I heard you the first time.” The Orbita interrupted.
A great white flash devoured the temple and ate the sound. Smell dissolved and touch went forfeit. All that remained was Benea’s voice, clear of any joy or benevolence. “I am Olipha, with a touch of my finger, I can turn your alchemical ash to pigeons and twist your pressing concerns to clouds of cotton. With but a sneeze, I can turn your region into a pool of crystal water.”
The next time the Orbita woke up, she did so with the worst headache she’d had since the morning after her coming of age celebration, and when she opened her eyes and sat up, she was greeted by the familiar sight of her two aunts sitting to each side of her bed. They were asleep, slumped over the bedside tables.
The doors opened, jolting her aunts awake and in came Sun-Downer the Companion, holding a pair of silver trays with carnivorous meals on them. He did a subtle double take as he noticed Orbita’s awakening, but kept his comments until after he handed Orbita’s aunts their respective trays.
Once that small duty had been fulfilled and Orbita’s aunts started to dig into their steaks, the older bull-man nodded at the teenage Ruler.
“I’m glad to see you awake, Crysanth.”
“Thank you, Buncle.” Orbita smiled, “When did I fall asleep?”
“You, along with most of New Dama, were knocked out by Benea the Goddess. We must have offended her in some way.”
Orbita’s eyes glazed over a bit as she rested her back against her bed’s headboard. “... Huh.”
“Also, the lower district is flooded, and the mudbrick houses near the northeastern market have collapsed due to the torrential rains.”
Orbita’s right eyebrow twitched. “Torrential rains?”
“Torrential rains, yes.”
“It isn’t even the wet season yet, though?”
Orbita let herself sink into her fluffy bed, an action which Sun-Downer took as a sign to leave the room.
As soon as her bedchambers’ doors closed her aunts started to stroke Orbita’s leafy hair, prompting her to hide her face with one of the massive pillows, sniffling.
Benea arrives in New Dama. Meets the Orbita, who isn’t the actual Orbita that conquered the Daman Lands, but their descendant. Orbita offends Benea and she flashbangs everyone and curses Node 10 with constant torrential rains.
-3 might to change the landscape of Node 10: it’s now in a constant state of torrential rain
-1 might to create buzzbees: strange fluttering orbs that consume alchemical ash and clean areas of the infection
-1 might to create buzzbees: strange fluttering orbs that consume alchemical ash and clean areas of the infection