Thick paintbrush rainbow spiral from a centre point and waterfall-down the dome of the sky as Vindrok and Jorge stampede across a field of broken crystal towers. The purple lattice structures puncture the hard-packed mud and streak upwards with vibrating thrusts. The two hop from the unbroken ground to the seemingly safe patch of earth. Their knees constantly bent as they leap forward through the random crystal petals of the Great Crystal Fields.
Soil cracks like a broken clay pot as another multifaceted purple spire burst forth from beneath the surface of Planet Green Bear. Vindrok flinches as the pointy construct grows just past his lips. He chuffs and hollers back to his squire, “Keep your feet light. Don’t you fucking land if you value your life. No more ecstasy if you should fucking eat it now you bedraggled mayonnaise celebrant!” Both of Vindrok’s feet leap from the ground as the dull brown beneath buckles to the upward pressure of yet another crystal geyser. Vindrok lands four meters ahead, red mane slaps his back with sweat as he bellows, “JORGE! Hie, to me! Lest I am forced to chase you into the underworld! I’ve been there before, and I have a certain reputation. You don’t want to see me pull your soul from death’s grip!”
Jorge, blue tunic wet to his body, takes a sucking breath and leaps with his creamy thighs exposed to the air. Left foot forward, as his right, springs him hopefully forward. While in the air, Jorge considers a day in his youth, a turning point for himself, when he knew he was bound for the world outside that of his small village.
A broom sweeps the dirt floor. Bristles shift small pebbles and cracked stones towards the invisible line at the base of the door frame. The packed earth of the hut is kept free of impurities by the twice-daily dirt sweep. Dark hands grip the broomstick and jerk, twist, and cajole the small rocks out of the hut. Shoulders and the attached muscles move automatically as the face directs its gaze out the front door flap. Eyes skyward as the mind roams the what-ifs and waking dreams of a bored younger.
Ahead Vindrok bounds from crumbling crust to crumbling crust. The oils and waters of the planet burble and jet super-heated vapours with keening squelches.
Jorge staggers behind, taking calculated leaps to sections where the dirt is most homogeneous. There’s no way to sess what’s underneath, but Jorge cannot let the mad kneht win.
“Explode and I’ll swim through these noxious fumes to the bowels of this hollow fuck and sieve your soul from the wretched soup that roils at the core!” Vindrok threatens from the far end of the Plains of Final Judgement.
Jorge curses as his eyes fail to locate the next patch of safe earth. He slides left foot forward and feels the crust beneath his big toe begin to crumble as his stomach begins to drop out. He trusts in the failing ground and pushes off his right leg eyes wide and fervid in his skull. They scream as he launches himself forward.
Forked red, green, and gold burn across the sky. Trailing oozy grey smokes out behind. Eyes follow the shape, winged, dark, colossal. The broom stutters against the dirt before it clatters to the packed floor. Feet step out of the hut as the sky burns overhead.
Jorge’s fingers strain forward, nearly popping out of their joints as he reaches towards safety. Green vapour spouts up and around Jorge. His vision fills with a vibrant jade as the liquids jet towards the sky. His seeing globes judder violently as tissue dissolves off his outstretched hand. Bones. Flesh drips as the green steam surges past his extended digits and he sees his own bones.
The county airship floats the levy towards the scaled invader. Its thick canvas gas sacks strain against the taut rope of Jorge’s village. His hands remember coiling, binding, stretching and braiding the lashes that now stretch across the gas sacks woven from the village across the water. The airship adjusts course to intercept the dragon. For that is what the source of flame and destruction is. One of those arms of god manifest. As it seeks to tear the world apart from its heavenly dominion the airship adjusts weapons and directs all ire towards the dragon. The heart seeking harpoon launches from the bow and young Jorge’s eyes track the crystal shuriken amidst the smoke pouring out from the ruined huts of his neighbours.
Vindrok pauses and looks over his well-muscled shoulder. Sweat glistens as his charcoal eyes seek the truth amidst the exploding earth. He sees not the bits of Jorge gradually melt away from extreme heat, and liquid pressure. Vindrok sees aquamarine pseudo pods tickle the edge of white calcium. Feathers gently clipped by the nurturing beak of a foreign bird whose plumes burn green and sulphurous through an ultraviolet scrim.
Great blue claws tug at the embedded crystal. Golden chest scales heave and wither as the shuriken grinds deeper towards the dragon’s hearts.