The Angel Asylum

The Alpha Guardian

Naomi Stoltzfus

Chapter 1: Scribe

Scribe fell onto the cold alabaster floors of the new world. The empty building was pearly white and monumental, supported by tall Corinth pillars and ogee arched doorways. The ceiling consisted of detailed pictures told through stained glass. The lights coming from the other side of the glass casted a shadow on the floor to retell the story that one could only see from a bird's eye view.

He picked himself up and looked around for his friends, but found that he was alone thanks to Mecondra pushing him in without anyone else. Just perfect…

"Always an abandoned temple," he said to himself. The place reminding him of the Aegis Sanctuary, though this place looked far more detailed and tranquil. Futuristic too. But vacant all the same.

He paced out the stone doorways and gazed down the endless corridors that stretched in two directions. Both of the wide halls were crowded with dozens of more doors hidden behind arches. He tapped his finger on the wall, trying to decide which course to take. What the hell was he supposed to do now?

"We don't normally get visitors here," someone said from behind and Scribe spun around in surprise. It was a man in heavy robes and thick leather undergarments. His skin was pure white, as if it were painted. His hair was short and snowy just like his complexion. He also had rounded ears like Zannor's.

"Especially not the… elf type," the man added on.

Scribe shook his head, not understanding a single word. "I don't speak English."

"That's quite alright. I'm very familiar with the Arielan language. My name is Sifa. Who might you be?"

Scribe sighed, glad that he didn't have to try playing a game of charades. "I'm Scribe. I'm looking for a few people. Did you see any of them? One had white hair like yours."

"I'm afraid no one comes by here, Scribe. This place was deserted a long time ago. This temple is out in the wilderness, and few venture these lands. What brings you here to look for them?"

"I got lost. Hey, do all humans speak Arielan?"

He chuckled while walking towards him. "No, no they don't. You aren't going to find many who know of the other realms here, much less speak their languages. No worries however. I know who you are and what your quest is. Perhaps I can help."

"Pass. Just show me the way out."

"Alright. Do you know where you're going once you leave?"

Though he sensed no malevolence or deception coming from the albino man, Scribe still didn't want to trust him. He didn't want to discuss who he was or what he was doing. The situation was too weird to let himself discuss his origins so openly.

"If you don't know where you're going, you will die going outside. Perhaps it would be wise staying here a while longer."

"Just show me the way out and I'll be on my way," Scribe repeated himself.

Sifa exhaled and dropped his innocent tone when he spoke again. "I'm not sending you out there when you've never been to this world before. You also don't know the language, Scribe. I know you're a Zekk Transcribe Guardian. Only the Guardian of Ceng has the gift of speech."

"I think I can manage," he responded, ignoring the fact that the foreign human knew a whole lot about him than he probably should. Who was this guy? An Elder God?

He picked a route and followed it. The white man casually pursued him as well.

"Do you think I'm an Elder God, or working for them?" He read his mind.

"Just who the hell are you, anyway?"

"Sifa," he answered again. "I have not created a waypoint for you, so I cannot take you to one of your friends."

Scribe walked faster. "You can leave me alone now. Shoo." The Sifa character was freaking him out.

The mysterious man gave him a quick tap on the shoulder and the elf whirled back around, ready to take out his sword. Sifa was gone.

His eyes darted around, but he did not reappear.

ooo

He wandered around the sanctuary, keeping his guard up. He didn't come into contact with anyone else on his way towards the exit. He came to the end of the hall where two giant doors stood in front of him. Before he could figure out how to get through them, they conveniently opened for him instead.

He felt the heat wave wash over him like a high tide of water. He squinted, the sun glaring off the tall sand dunes that stretched out to the horizon. In every direction was wasteland. No wonder no one came to the temple. It was in the middle of absolutely nowhere.

Scribe sauntered out and turned around so that he could get a good look of the outside view of the building, but widened his eyes when the doors and temple were gone. Completely vanished without a trace of existence.

He turned around and round again. He was stuck in the desert without a destination to head towards.

He shielded his face with his arm when sand blew on him like hail. "Well, shit…" He coughed, the air hard to breathe.

Enk

Though he had gone through the rift with both Tyme and Mecondra, he didn't appear with them into Earth. He had made sure that nothing was wrong with the Viscus Silva that would affect the portal into the next world, so it meant that something was wrong with Earth itself.

He didn't even get to walk into the realm. He was dropped from the ceiling, landing on his back.

The structure had dark red walls with ancient hieroglyphics painted as murals. There were fake burning torches to light the way, though most of them weren't working. The space looked to be modern with the attempt of an antique flair.

A grown cat jumped up on Enk's chest and meowed with contentment. Its stature and posture were elegantly majestic with fur of ebony. Its greens eyes peered down at him with a sparkle saying it was so much more than just a normal primitive feline. It had three long tails instead of just one, and its ears were pierced with gold earrings.

Enk observed the cat seated on him as it started to purr. He let out a sigh and petted the fuzzy feline.

The cat licked his face and meowed again. It jumped off his chest and waited patiently for him.

Enk sat up and looked to see what it wanted. He groaned when he saw that it wanted him to follow, rolling to his feet. He trailed it as it took off down the gallery.

They came to a metal door and the cat jumped up onto Enk's shoulder, perching itself merrily by his face.

"Is there something behind this door?" the God spoke to it, not expecting an answer. It was curious though. Where on Earth had he landed?

The cat swung one tail around his head, dangling a key from a small string attached to it.

He hesitated, but gently received the key. He eyed the cat. Animals on Earth were not advanced, but this one seemed to have a bright mind of its own. The fact that it had three tails was odd enough.

He put the key in the lock and turned it.

The door slid open automatically, revealing an uninhibited laboratory inside.

"Welcome, ne-eee-ew coo-ooooo-mer," a computerized female voice said to him from broken speakers. "As-ssssk a qu-uuuu-estion and I will search fo-ooor answers for you."

He felt like he was in some sci-fi movie. He decided to play along. "What planet is this?" he asked, searching through scattered papers and computer monitors throughout the room.

"This i-iiiiis planet Earth."

"What year is it?"

"It is currently year 2233."

It was a large time gap since the last century that he was supposedly on Earth. Zannor was born year 2124 and the last time he stepped foot on Earth was 2020. It had been well over 200 years for him and nearly 100 for Zannor. When the Viscus Silva messed up the time stream of all the realms, it must have really sped up Earth's in comparison.

"Where is everyone?"

"Human s-ssssstatus in building is deceased. Picking up t-tttwooo unknown life forms-." The voice was attempting to speak more, but its voice faded in and out like a radio with a dying battery. It was done answering questions.

Enk tried all the computers, but none of them turned on for him. The papers were formulas and a bunch of equations written tightly together. He didn't have all the information, so none of it made sense to him. The vials and flasks were empty, no experiments started for him to observe.

He placed the papers neatly back on the table and left the room. "Should have asked what this place was." He found stairs leading down and descended them. He came to a window and looked out. It wasn't what he expected. There was no suburban area, town, farm, city, sidewalks, roads, or people. It was nothing but desert outside. He must have landed in some top-secret facility placed where no civilians would travel.

It was certain that he was on Earth and that the place was empty. Not just empty, but the people were dead. That meant that there were bodies and something killed them.

"Did you kill the people here?" Enk asked the cat and it just rubbed its face against his. "Nah, it was something else."

The wall close to his side exploded, a cannonball the size of his head zooming past him and smashing through the rest of the building in a straight path.

He heard another cannonball shoot through in different room not too far away from him. He wasn't sure if he was to duck or run like hell.

The cat jumped down and meowed at him to follow before it started to run away.

He followed just as another ball soared by him. Where was the attack coming from? He didn't see anything before. He leaped down a stairwell and through a few halls before they reached the exit door that swung open on its own for them.

The cat jumped back up on his shoulder when he came out into the boiling sand.

Enk stopped and stared at the five-pillared black castle in the far distance. It looked to be the size of a large city with towers higher than the clouds. A wall circled around the five pillars sitting on mechanical legs. The columns were built huddled together and black pools of smoke and gasses engulfed to tops of the monumental mechanism.

He looked back at the building that he had emerged from, but it had disappeared. Had Earth been inflicted with the same sickness as the Viscus Silva? It wasn't like the realm had the Somnium looming over its planes, or a poisonous seal connecting to its quintessence.

"Enk!"

He turned his head and saw Scribe running at him down a steep dune. At least he found one of the Guardians.

"Run! We have to get out of here now!" Scribe yelled while racing past.

Enk had no trouble keeping up to join him. "You're speaking English," he said, his monotone hiding his surprise.

"And you have a cat riding on your shoulder! It's a funny story. Remind me to tell it to you later."

"What are you running from and do you have a destination?"

"I'm running from that monster back there! It's the biggest thing I've ever seen move in my life! It's like an entire nation got legs and started on its jolly good way!" Scribe yelled when he almost got hit by a fired cannonball, getting thrown off his feet from the blast.

Enk grabbed his hand and yanked him back up, forcing him along with little time to breathe. "Are any of the others with you?"

"No. Maybe we'd all be together if freaking Mecondra didn't push me inside!"

"Right. Hold on."

Scribe almost ran right into Enk when the God stopped and turned around. The black cat jumped off his shoulder and onto Scribe's head.

The Newborn raised his hands and the sands did their best to form together and create a wall to protect them from the next attack.

"What the hell? Get off my head!" Scribe forced the feline off him. He saw another cannon ball coming straight for him and quickly made a shield. The explosion sent the elf flying back, hitting the ground rolling and tumbling over himself.

Enk prevented him from going any further. "You okay?"

"I twisted my freaking ankle!"

The cat started towards the attacking kingdom and waited for them to accompany.

"It wants us to follow."

"You speak to cats now? You're such a…" Scribe's words trailed off as he held his foot.

"Come on." Enk lifted the kid up and went with the cat leading them to their assailant.

"Are we seriously going closer to that thing? Are you insane? You're a God, but that thing is ginormous! You can't take that thing on!"

"Where else are we going to go? There's nothing but miles of sand that could go on forever for all we know."

"Earth sucks! It's hot, it's humid, it's lifeless, and the air is terrible!" Scribe coughed into his fist, leaving behind a few drops of blood. "Well, that can't be healthy…"

A dune buggy pulled in front of them with a human wearing a gas mask in the driver's seat. "Need a lift? I'm heading over to the Asylum now, assuming that's where you're going."

The cat hopped onto the buggy and Enk decided to do the same.

The driver pushed a button and the vehicle was enclosed with glass as it dove under the sand surface. It swam through like a submarine in water. The windshield was just a digital computer guiding him to where he needed to go, doing most of the work for him.

He pushed a few buttons and the air inside of the buggy was filtered. He took off his mask and glanced back at the two. "Looked like you were having a hard time against the Asylum's defense systems. Where you two coming from?"

"I don't have an answer for that."

"Fair enough."

Enk saw the blood on the boy's hand. He hoped it was from a smaller wound and not his lungs.

"Not sure what you guys were thinking, being out there without any type of protection. The outside can kill you if you're not careful."

The buggy resurfaced after a few minutes and the glass uncovered them after the guy put his mask back on. It was dark and the bottom of the castle was right above their heads, a few feet left between the ground and the metal.

The man reached up and pulled open a latch in the metal, revealing a ladder leading up into further darkness. He turned to his companions before he went in. "Is the girl hurt?"

Enk looked to see who he was referring to and saw it was Scribe. "Boy."

"Pardon?"

"He's a boy. I've got him, don't worry. Thanks for getting us here," he forced formalities.

"Wait, did he just mistake me for a chick?" Scribe asked, just realizing what the conversation meant.

"Come on, get on my back. I'll carry you up."

"Avoiding my questions," Scribe mumbled and got on Enk's back before he climbed up the lengthy ladder with the man behind him.

The guy pushed more buttons in his vehicle and it sank into the sand without him. He shut the door to the outside and the sides of the vertical shaft glowed with faint lights.

Scribe blew on the cat when its tail accidentally brushed against his face.

The feline looked at him for a second and licked his face.

"Did we seriously let a cat lead us into this thing with a person we've never met before?"

"We'll discuss it later, Scribe."

They came to an end and the man instructed them to simply lift the tile.

Enk slid the title above him and stepped onto the solid charred floor.

The man came out as well and put the tile back in place, closing the passage. "Welcome back to the asylum, gentlemen," he announced and walked off into a crowd, disappearing into the population.

The heat almost paralleled with the outside, though the shade helped a little. There were dusty dirt roads over the plated floors. Lit barrels were the light source, the walls of small dwellings scorched and black. Stores and homes were nothing more than metal rods, string, and tents put together to mark some sort of territory of ownership and privacy. The sky was black as a moonless night, no telling of how high it went. Strong metal support beams were places all throughout the wide tunnel, reaching beyond the darkness above them.

Children ran around Scribe when Enk put him down, playing a game of tag while laughing and screaming. Adults walked around as if they didn't have a place to go, or sat along the sidelines with solemn faces. There were people with off-color skin and misconstrued faces. Some had extra limbs or other unworldly mutations.

Scribe was about ready to hit the kids playing around him, but they ran off just before he had the chance. "I somehow pictured Earth… differently."

"Who gave you the ability to speak English?" Enk asked as Scribe sat down. He changed into his elven form, which only took the length and glow out of his hair. His presence was concealed as well, but that didn't matter to anyone normal who couldn't sense it anyway.

"I met this weirdo white guy. He seemed to know all about me. Spoke Arielan too. I didn't really trust him, but right before I ran out, he grabbed me. And bam, I'm somehow able to translate my words into English."

"Where did you meet him?"

"No, how about you tell me what's going on in this demented world."

Enk sat as well and rested his chin in his hands, pondering the possibilities and reasonable explanations. Nothing rational came to mind. "I'm not sure I know myself actually."

"Dude, how can you not know? You know everything about all the worlds."

"Earth was nothing like this when I came here last. Sure, it was almost a century ago, but I didn't expect something like this. They showed signs of advancement. Something inhuman is setting this race back and I don't know for how long it's been active."

"It's obviously one of the Elders."

"No, it's obvious that Earth has been in this dystopian state for a long time. The time gaps were fixed the moment Sin became the Somnium Guardian. All three Elders were in the Viscus Silva at that time. We're no longer than half a day behind any of the Elders that came here. So whatever happened here, happened a long time ago."

"An Elder came here prior to the fixing of the time stream?"

"That's my guess. What the hell did they do though?"

"Brainstorming time." Scribe made himself comfortable on the floor.