EVHEN & UURTH

EVHEN & UURTH

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Genre: Fantasy

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Status: In Progress

Genre: Fantasy

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Summary

THIS IS AN UNPOLISHED FIRST DRAFT OF THE OPENING TWO CHAPTERS. ('Soul Survivor' is a working title.)

A rather incompetent junior god and his beautiful minder; a bad tempered, cantankerous crow, and a psychopomp with a troubled past - why would anyone put the fate of the planet in the hands of this motley crew? Dux Shrevas may just be having second thoughts..
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Summary

THIS IS AN UNPOLISHED FIRST DRAFT OF THE OPENING TWO CHAPTERS. ('Soul Survivor' is a working title.)

A rather incompetent junior god and his beautiful minder; a bad tempered, cantankerous crow, and a psychopomp with a troubled past - why would anyone put the fate of the planet in the hands of this motley crew? Dux Shrevas may just be having second thoughts..

Chapter1 (v.1) - The Summons

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: October 10, 2016

Reads: 328

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: October 10, 2016

A A A

A A A

Uurth was dying. The newest planet in the megaverse had in fact been dying since itsday of creation. It was dying because its inhabitants weren’t.

__________

CHAPTER 1.

Reaching the office of Dux Shrevas was never easy. Ancor knew this from experience. Floor Infinity was quite a long way up and it didn’t help that the lift was out of commission. An overrunning maintenance check on level Infinity less Twelve, saw to that.

Ancor was not as fit as he’d once been and the thought of dragging himself up a dozen flights of stairs was a rather daunting one. Still, when summoned before The Ultimate One, there was no choice. And so it was a rather leg-weary, breathless and altogether harassed demigod that eventually presented himself at the desk of the tall, blonde Personal Assistant.

“Ancor?” she queried. “You’re late,” she continued, confident that nobody other than he was due to meet with her boss that day.

“Erm, yes. And yes. Sorry,” replied Ancor. “The erm, lift. I mean, the stairs. I didn’t know. It’s a bit of a trek,” he bumbled as he steadied himself by placing both hands on the front of the PA’s desk.

If he was waiting for sympathy, he’d have waited a long time. None was forthcoming. Words were not required. She glared at his hands, slowly raising her gaze to his eyes. Ancor instantly got the message and returned his hands by his sides.

“If you’d just like to take a seat over at the waiting area I’ll let Dux Shrevas, know you’ve arrived.” The PA motioned with her right hand to the opposite end of the room, and the two, white three-seater settees placed perpendicularly to her own desk.

“What sort of mood is he in?”

The PA had her back to Ancor as she rummaged in a filing cabinet, but sensed a mix of despondency and panic in his voice.

 “Don’t worry – I’m sure you’ll be fine,” she said, turning her head over her left shoulder to look at him. Her tone had softened and she smiled at him. It was more of a forced, sympathetic grimace, but it provided a pleasant diversion of Ancor’s thoughts, even if only momentarily. 

He walked over to the settees and opted for the one on the right. As he plumped up a couple of purple cushions before sitting down at the end closest to the PA’s desk, he again wondered why he’d been called before the Head of the Council of Gods. Presumably, it wasn’t simply for tea and tiffin. No point worrying though, he’d find out soon enough.

Ancor took his seat and looked around the room. Not much had changed since his last visit. It was cool, spotlessly clean and calm. The décor was predominantly white, although the two large, purple, bean bag recliners offered an interesting contrast. They were of a matching shade to the cushion he had placed over his knees, like some kind of ineffectual security blanket.

A long, low, transparent-topped table separated the facing settees. Neatly piled in the middle of the table were several old copies of ‘Creative Planets’ magazine.’ The one on view proudly declared on the front page, ‘FREE WITH THIS ISSUE: YOUR GUIDE TO BUILDING A HARMONIOUS POPULACE!’ This had long since disappeared, probably into the toga pocket of some hard-up, mischievous student deity. Beside the magazines lay a huge, hard bound book entitled ‘The Creation. (A Pictorial History.)’ A small, sticky black mark adorned the cover on the top right hand corner.

Ethereal music drifted throughout the room. It had been designed as a place of serenity. A place where those who had been called before the Ultimate One had time to reflect upon the reasons for their summons. Which of course rendered the ambient atmosphere completely irrelevant.

Ancor shifted uneasily on the settee. He picked up the top magazine from those on the table and quickly flicked through it. He didn’t read a word. None of the startling images even registered. He sighed, sat back on the settee and, clasping his sweaty hands, palms facing outward, he stretched his arms and tried to relieve the tension in his neck by moving his head from side to side.

He was conscious of the Personal Assistant watching him from the other side of the room. Her radiant charm briefly diverted his mind from what he felt sure would prove to be an uncomfortable meeting with Dux Shrevas. Such meetings normally were. He carefully crossed his legs, mindful of the potential for his toga to flap open as he did so. 

He still had an eye for a pretty woman. He had two eyes of course, but from an early age he’d trained the other to independently scan the immediate area for suspicious fathers and jealous husbands. For a centuries-old Junior God, he was still a bit of a devil when it came to the ladies.

He brushed his long, grey hair back from his face and flicked his head in a backward motion. Slowly stroking his beard with his right hand, he reached out once again for the magazines, placing one on his lap. Gods were not really conditioned to act in an overtly seductive fashion, but Ancor reckoned he could push the boundaries of the expected ‘learned and sage-like’ norm. 

With both hands, he gathered his flowing locks into a pony tail, temporarily revealing the full extent of his wrinkled, but still, all things considered, relatively youthful features. In attempting to look thoughtful and preoccupied, he tucked the left edge of his bottom lip under the top row of his teeth. An unexpected drivel of saliva ran down his chin. Ancor instinctively and rather audibly tried to slurp it back up, but it quickly disappeared into the tangle of grey beard. 

He wiped his mouth with the top of his toga, hoping the mishap had not been witnessed. Narrowing his eyes, as if this would disguise his intention, he squinted in the direction of the PA. His momentary excitement immediately subsided as he realised she had more important things to do than reciprocate his attention.

She stood with her back to Ancor, the low-cut back of her spotless, white robe exposing broad, toned shoulders. Her blond hair was bunched, high and elegant. Judging from the height of the filing cabinet in which she was still rummaging, Ancor reasoned she must have been around six feet tall – a good few inches taller than him. Having retrieved the file for which she was looking, the PA walked towards the door immediately behind her desk. She smiled politely at Ancor before knocking gently on the door and entering.

When she reappeared a few moments later, she no longer held the file.

“Dux Shrevas will see you now,” she said.

Ancor rose to his feet with a perceptible air of trepidation, and dried the nervous sweat from his palms on the front of his toga. He silently followed the PA as she pushed open the door once again and entered the office.

It was a large, sparsely furnished room, with no attempt made to make visitors feel at ease. There were no scatter cushions or bean bags as in the waiting area.

Crossing the room meant traversing the ‘feature’ Dux Shrevas had instructed be installed when he commissioned the office – a large, four strides wide, reinforced, transparent floor. Being on Floor Infinity, this afforded amazing, and for many, vertigo inducing views of the planets far, far below. 

Ancor was not fazed. His attendance record at meetings such as this was second to none. As he strode across, he stole a quick look beneath his feet. That dim light, the one nestling amongst the plethora of brighter ones – was that planet Uurth? He thought so.

Behind an enormous, ostentatious white desk, sat the imposing figure of the Ultimate One – Dux Shrevas. To his right, was an unoccupied, but similarly high-backed, luxuriously padded, white swivel chair. In the corner by the window was a hat-stand, on which hung a warm, dark coloured, padded jacket. A hat was perched on a peg just above.

Other than that, the room offered only two basic, less comfortable looking chairs, to which the PA gently steered Ancor. He chose the one closest to the panoramic window and sat down. And waited. In the presence of The Ultimate One, you speak when spoken to. You do not endeavour to blag a more confident air by chirping a cheery “Hi.”

 “Thank you, Molly.” said Dux Shrevas. “Please, take a seat.” He indicated she should sit on the remaining chair.

“Thank you, sir,” she said, nodding her head in acknowledgement.

“Molly,” Ancor mused. “Hmmmn. She’s tall for a Molly. And attractive.”

Dux Shrevas was still engrossed in the file. He twirled an inked quill in his hand, quickly scribbling a few pertinent notes. Much as he peered and squinted, they remained indecipherable to Ancor.

Ancor tried to relax. He noticed that since his last visit, or rather, summons, The Ultimate One had treated himself to a compulsive, but incredibly irritating Newton’s Cradle desk toys. 

No – perhaps now is not the best time, thought Ancor as his mind fought off the almost overpowering temptation to pull back and release one of the suspended metal balls.

Several uncomfortable minutes passed in silence, save for the rustle of paper as the pages in the file labelled ‘Ancor’ were turned.

Eventually, the file was slowly closed and Dux Shrevas let it flop onto the desk. He removed his reading glasses and raised his head to look directly at Ancor.

“Ancor. Welcome. Again.” The final word was loaded with a combination of resignation and exasperation.

“Where’s your buddy?” he continued.

“My ‘buddy,’ sir?” asked Ancor.

“Yes, Ancor – your buddy. Thard. That’s his name, isn’t it? Don’t play games, Ancor - this is a serious matter. Thard – your pal from university. The one you pleaded be allowed to assist in your assignment. The creation of Uurth.”

Ancor sensed The Ultimate One was a tad tetchy.

“I’m sorry, sir,” he replied. “He no longer works with me. “

“And why not?”

“We had a bit of a fall-out, about a century ago, I’m afraid, sir.”

“Good grief, man! This is hard work. Why? What happened?”

“Well, sir. Thard had always argued there was a basic design fault with the creation as I’d proposed and eventually engineered. He wasn’t happy that the inhabitants of Uurth were created as immortal. He maintained that by preserving Life, we – sorry, he – was missing out on potential business opportunities. He mentioned funerals. And life assurance. And health foods. He said the list was endless.”

Dux Shrevas looked incredulous.

“I can see from your reaction, sir that you agree it is not a God’s place to capitalize financially from our creations,” said Ancor, as if delivering the final line in a defence lawyer’s summing up of a court case.

“Ancor – I admire your ethical stance, and of course you’re right. It is indeed not for the Gods to be cashing in on their creations. But that is not the reason behind my evident look of disbelief.”

“No, sir?”

“No Ancor.” The Ultimate One’s voice took on a firmer tone. “Please - clue me as to why in the name of everything sacred, you would grant immortality to the population of Uurth?”

“Sure,” replied Ancor in a voice verging on cocky. “In the Grand Library, sir, whilst doing my initial research, I found an old dusty book that related to an ancient civilisation. In it, and I paraphrase, it said that their God created ‘Man’ in his own image. And we’re immortal, right?”

Ancor spoke with an air of smugness that indicated he felt vindicated in his actions. He’d intended it to be a rhetorical question, but the comeback was swift and reproachful.

“And we’re Gods, Ancor. We’re Gods,” said a tired sounding Dux Shrevas, before tagging the words “though that’s sometimes hard to believe,” under his breath. “That’s how it works, Ancor. Gods: immortal. Inhabitants: mortal.”

Ancor hung his head, the confidence and bluster of a few moments earlier having quickly drained away.

“You realise the consequences of your design, don’t you?” Dux Shrevas queried. “No – that’s a stupid question, actually. Of course you don’t. Here – I’ll tell you: your creation is dying, Ancor. Uurth is dying.”

Ancor was shocked by the revelation. He had not actually visited the planet for quite some time, assuming that it would simply run itself without the need for any supervision.

“How so, sir?” he asked.

“Come on Ancor – any moron can work it out. Nobody on Uurth dies; the inhabitants keep breeding; the population rises solstice by solstice; the planet’s natural resources become depleted; there’s not enough food to go around; the hospital beds are full of lethargic, malnourished, bored people who just won’t die, but will remain ill until either more food can be sourced, or until the end of time. No food means no workforce. No workforce means no money. No circulating money means stagnation … you get the picture.”

“I guess so, sir. I’d never thought of it that way.”

“One thing Ancor. One tiny little thing we at the Council of Gods asked of you. Create a self-sufficient planet, we said. Simple. But no – you sought the easy option. What have you been doing these past few centuries? No. Don’t answer that. It won’t change anything.”

“Right,” Dux Shrevas continued after heaving a huge, satisfying sigh. “Where’s this Thard fellow, now then?”

“I don’t rightly know, sir” said a disheartened Ancor, in a small voice that struggled to be heard. “I’ve been told he’s now practicing some of his, shall we say more shady business initiatives, amongst the Underworld of Uurth.”

“Expand on ‘shady business initiatives,’ please,” said the altogether fed-up Ultimate One.

“Oh, you know – protection racket; extortion; money-lending. That sort of stuff.”

“So he’s not one of ours any more. I take it he won’t cause us any problems?”

“No sir, I shouldn’t think so. He always had more materialistic ideals than the other Junior Gods. I don’t think he’d be interested in the God Life any more.”

The Ultimate One was straight to the point. “Right, I’ll suspend his deity status immediately until I have conclusive evidence of his dealings. If he doesn’t make contact to discuss matters within the next ten suns, he’ll be excommunicated from the Union of Gods. I have no time for minor irritants. Not when the very future of Uurth is at stake”

Ancor hung his head.

“The bottom line, Ancor, is that the inhabitants will have to forfeit immortality in order for the planet to recover and future generations to thrive. That in itself is not so much of a problem. The Council of Gods could simply pass a decree and remotely convert everyone to mere mortals on a specified date.”

“But,” The Ultimate One continued, “that would obviously not be in our best interests. Believers would rail against The Council; they’d turn to alterative religions. New cults would form. We’d be out of work.”

“No – this must be their decision. The inhabitants of Uurth must be persuaded to voluntarily give up their immortality for the good of the whole. And, I can’t actually believe I’m going to say this, this is where you have a chance to redeem yourself, Ancor.”

“Sir?”

“I want you to head off right now, to Meeting Room 2 down the corridor. In there, you’ll find a flipchart, some quills and coloured ink. You have the remainder of today’s light, to come up with a plan of action that you can take back down to Uurth and implement. Your proposals should be presented to me, back in this room, by the setting of the five suns this evening.”

“B-b-but sir.” Ancor now sounded like a petulant schoolboy – not very becoming of a God, albeit a Junior one, of several centuries standing.

“I know, Ancor. I have my reservations too. But I suspect that if I were to ask you to conduct a brainstorming session on your own, I’d only be left mopping up rainwater. So,” he turned his head to the right, “Molly. Would you be so kind as to help Ancor with the plan?”

There was only one possible answer.

“Certainly, Dux Shrevas,” she said, and politely smiled.

Ancor smiled too.

 

***

Uurth


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