The Celestials Prison - Envoy of the Damned
Chapter 1: Jack; Vagril 5th, 343SR; 15:08
'Another day of mining... Well, whatever, this is what we were born into this world for...'
The pickaxe slammed into the tall wall of rock lit orange by the lantern in Jack's hand. Several crystals of logorite shone green as the light reflected off of the rays of light produced by the slave's lanterns.
"So- uh... Doing pretty good, huh Ben?" Jack stuttered as he tried to make conversation for the fifth time.
Jack stood behind him, the bulkier man swung the pickaxe down and a crack rippled through the cave followed by the pellets of dust trickling onto the floor. Jack looked down and noticed the light reflect off drops of sweat, the smell of it stung his nose. 'Another eight hours of mining...'
Ben raised the pickaxe and flexed his muscular arms, the sweat ran down against his light brown skin as it reflected off the light. He exhaled before he swung down, cleaving a big chunk of rock off. 'He's pretty strong...'
Ben had short black hair and a long face with small features. He was always serious and never said much to Jack, barely ever even making eye contact. 'I didn't think slaves could keep that much hair, he must have been here for a long time...' Jack rubbed the top of his flat head, brushing his fingers against the tiny amount of stubble that remained after being shaved several days ago. All male slaves in Logos were shaved bald on arrival, the women had their hair cut short.
On the ground was a shirt similar to the one Jack wore, a dirty white full-sleeve T-shirt. They also both wore loose brown pants held up by a simple black leather belt. The pickaxe went down again and chunks of grey rock and dust scattered around the air, Ben squinted and shielded his narrow eyes to avoid the dust, droplets of sweat leaked down his head. He stepped back huffing, catching his breath as he twisted the pickaxe in one hand. Then in one motion, he brought the axe overhead, grasped it with both hands, and cleaved off as much as he could with a frustrated grunt. The metallic thud echoed through the cave as the pebbles sprinkled onto the cave floor. Several chunks clashed against the wall as they rolled onto the ground and settled down on the rough pebbles. Similar sounds could be heard throughout the cave from other slaves mining.
"Why do we have to do stuff like this anyways!" a voice in the distance echoed through the cave.
Jack turned his head and looked off towards one of the lights in the dark cave where the silhouette of an angel beat the person who yelled with their staff, she cried out in pain with each strike.
"Stop, ow! Stop!" her voice echoed through the cave, an audible thud could be heard throughout the cave followed by even more painful wails.
'There goes that idiot Carol, can't just take orders and not cause a commotion...' Jack mocked her silently.
"Ben, do you wanna bet who works the next shift on whether we can guess who's getting beat?" Jack tried to make conversation with Ben once more.
Ben put the pickaxe down, then picked up his shirt and threw it over his shoulder. His brown pants were drenched in sweat and his hands shook from constantly striking the rock. Ben proceeded to fill the bucket with the ore which he had mined. Once he was done, he turned and picked up his lantern with the other hand and turned around, still having not once looked at Jack.
"I don't care," Ben walked away.
Jack stood there as Ben walked away. A lonesome chill embraced him, and the scenario he was forced into became increasingly frustrating.
'Well if there's one good thing about Carol she's the only person I can talk to around here... No one else in Logos talks to me...'
Jack looked back and saw Carol weakly stand up, she looked at the angel who walked away. He could tell even from this distance she was sticking her tongue out to mock him. Jack had been staying at Carol's house while the angels investigated his parent's home he would later receive. She was the complete opposite of the regular people of Logos. A happy, outgoing girl who would never leave you alone with endless things to talk about. 'She's rambled about how crappy the angels are every night since I got here...'
Jack put his lantern on the ground and then gently dragged his shirt over his scrawny body, leaving it on the dusty ground next to the lantern. The soothe cold air licked at his skin as he reached for the iron handle of the pickaxe, 'Vagril just started and it's getting this hot out... I'm sweating just on my way here...' Jack struggled to lift it above his head. The muscles on his back pulled his skin, his thin arms struggled to keep the heavy pickaxe in the air. He pulled the pick down with all his force and slammed it into the wall. As the end of the axe hit the rock it sent a ripple through his weak body. His bones rattled uncomfortably, and the vibration took a moment to stop. Jack huffed and readied for another strike as someone approached. The familiar clicking sound of the guard's boots grew closer.
"Jack Eldritch? Sixteen years old?" Jack heard the voice of a young man and turned to see an angel in a guard uniform.
The guards wore white robes which covered their whole body, his face was covered by a white mask with two holes for sight, and the guard held a stack of papers in his hands. They seemed to glimmer in the darkness with that white uniform, it made it easy for Jack to keep track of where they were. 'Apparently, they're too divine to even be looked upon...'
"Yes?" Jack replied and reached down to pick up the green crystal, he tossed it into the bucket of Logorite, and the rock clattered against the walls of the metal bucket.
"As of the fifth of Vagril, you will be responsible for the property of your mother and father who were executed for treason sixteen days ago on the eightieth of Grivar," the angel explained.
"Oh... Right," Jack replied.
"Look at me when I talk to you, and reply respectfully!" the wingless angel suddenly yelled out as he placed an empty bucket next to the filled bucket.
"Y-Yes, sir..." Jack muttered as the angel handed him the key to his parent's property, he felt slightly sick accepting it from him.
"Your previous ticket please."
"Huh... Oh," Jack reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumpled white paper, four of the five boxes were filled.
Jack offered him the ticket, the angel snatched it out of his hands.
'What a prick...' Jack thought before he looked down to examine the key in his hand. A cold piece of thin silver metal with a jagged pattern along its edge, the numbers '03' etched into it.
"Here is your meal plan for next week," the angel handed over a small strip of paper with five empty boxes on it.
Jack took the small sheet and examined it, the boxes were left blank. He stuffed the key and the piece of paper into his pocket. The angel lifted the bucket of the logorite and walked off into the darkness, his silhouette was still visible against a different light in the cave towards the exit. The angel turned around and faced Jack.
"You are aware of why your parents were executed, right?" the angel in white asked.
"Huh? Oh... No... No one told me anything," Jack replied.
"They did not recognize their place and were punished for it by the noble, Alexander Rael. They chose to reject the will of the great Celestial and lost their foolish lives for it. You would be wise not to repeat their mistake, do you understand?"
"I understand," Jack lied with a fearful tone.
"Good. Now keep mining."
Jack stood in the circle of light produced by his torch, he heard the rapid clangs of pickaxes around the cave, his back felt colder than before. He clutched the wooden handle with both hands and lifted the pickaxe, his hands gripping it tightly before he swung down with all his strength. He grunted in anger as the pick bounced off the wall. He swung violently once more and struck it again.
The hole in the wall was just a bit bigger than it was eight hours ago. Jack wore himself out, staring at the ceiling with his back to the floor, his twitching hands and aching forearms radiating with pain. The sparkles of green logorite on the dark ceiling dimmed as the faint lights they reflected off moved toward the exit. His palms were callused and his shoulders ached, Jack didn't even care that he had been lying in his own sweat. He heard the sound of footsteps grow closer. 'Please don't be Carol, please don't be Carol' Jack repeated to himself.
"Jack let's go, the shifts are done. Why are you sitting around?" Carol asked.
'Ugh,' he recognized the voice. Jack slowly stood up, he brushed the pebbles and dust off of his brown pants.
"I'm not staying at your place anymore, the angels gave me my parent's property. You don't need to wait for me," Jack flapped his shirt, and wisps of dust flew into the air.
"That's great!" Carol replied with a giddy tone as Jack pulled the dusty shirt over his head.
"Yeah, it is, I don't have to listen to you anymore..." Jack smiled as he picked up his lantern and turned towards the exit.
Carol laughed at his response. She wore the typical miner's attire, brown pants, and a beige shirt stained by sweat, her skin was rough from working constantly, and her large green eyes were hard to focus on because of a purple bruise on her forehead.
"Well, I was hoping you weren't getting transferred. Not like it'd matter anyway," Carol breathed a sigh of relief.
"I got transferred from Torovince last week, why would they transfer me again? Why do you even care?" Jack asked multiple questions with an annoyed tone.
"Well I'd be sad if a friend had to leave, but even if you left we'd always be friends, " Carol replied.
Jack stopped for a moment, 'Friend? Is that what she thinks after I said that...' He continued to walk after a short delay.
"Was that bruise from earlier today?" Jack questioned.
Carol adjusted the bangs of her short black hair to cover the bruise.
"What bruise?" Carol replied.
Jack narrowed his eyes at her weak attempt to hide the mark on her head. He ignored it, picked up his lantern, and walked towards the exit. Carol followed close behind. They entered the hole and their lanterns lit up the dark narrow interior of the exit.
"Jack, do you hate this place?" Carol suddenly asked as they walked through the dark hole.
"Nope," Jack replied and continued to walk in front of her.
"Your parents hated this place."
"I don't care."
They approached the exit of the cave where an angel on duty awaited them.
"Hurry up you damn maggots!" the guard yelled.
The female angel wore the familiar white mask and white robes, she yelled from the top of the cave with an iron staff in her hand. As Jack approached the entrance of the cave, the musty air became pure and his nose was delighted to escape the stuffy cave.
"Jack and Carol hurry up! I want to be in the comfort of my own home instead of waiting for a couple of maggots!" the angel spat condescendingly.
"If you don't want to wait for maggots, stop watching us all the-" Jack was cut off as the angel swung a metal staff into his head.
He fell to the ground with a thud and dropped his lantern, he rolled onto his front grasping his face tightly, the staff hit the right side of his head, and his skull throbbed from the impact as his thoughts went blank.
"Jack!" he heard Carol cry out.
He felt tears coming out of his eyes from the immense pain, but at the same time, he felt a metal boot slam into his chest, the air in his lungs lost to the impact.
"Damn, maggot! You waste my time, and then have the nerve, to talk back to me!" The angel slammed her metal boot into his stomach three more times.
The blows made it difficult to breathe. 'Is this what happened to my mom and dad?' Jack was overwhelmed with immense fear and pain. He started to picture himself meeting their fate.
"Stop! He's new here! Please have mercy!" Carol pleaded as she tried to shield Jack.
The guard pulled away as Jack curled into a ball, writhing in pain. He gasped for air as he rolled onto his front, his breath ragged and harsh. It was hard to breathe.
"Maggots," the angel mocked.
She walked away, following the dirt path that led around the mines and then towards the city of Helios, the capital city of the angels. 'Bitch...' Jack silently cursed as he slowly pushed himself up.
"Are you alright?" Carol asked as Jack picked up the pickaxe and lantern.
"I'm fine," Jack uttered in pain.
His chest was numb from getting kicked repeatedly, he felt pathetic trying to hold the rest of his tears in. Carol stared at Jack with a concerned expression.
"I hate this place," said Carol.
Jack started to slowly walk through the forest towards the town of Logos. The mining town closest to Helios. The dirt path was covered in foliage and surrounded at all angles by trees. His head was numb from the strike earlier. The impact and pain were burned into his memory, constantly reminding him of how weak he was. Jack winced and limped every step of the way.
As they got out of the forest, the trees cleared to reveal multiple crop fields that surrounded a small town. The dirt path in front of Jack separated a dry light yellow field of wheat and another of tall looming cornstalks. The path was lit by lamps stretching between the forest to the town, illuminating the shadows cast by the sun setting in the distance across a field of orange clouds that painted a pale blue sky.
"It's going to rain tonight," Carol pointed out.
Jack's pace had returned to normal. but the pain from the assault earlier lingered.
"I wonder how we'll mine tomorrow," she pondered.
"We're obviously gonna keep working, it's not like the angels care about a bit of rain," said Jack, he didn't turn his head to Carol as they walked between the tall crops.
"Not if I do something..." Carol spoke cryptically as she stared at the ground in front of her.
Jack turned and looked at Carol, behind her was the mountain and forest they had come from. However, behind the mountain, the Celestial loomed over everything, a grey pillar that majestically stretched into the sky, even beyond the clouds.
"What are you talking about?" Jack asked out of confusion.
Carol turned and looked up at the Celestial, her back facing Jack.
"One time a storm happened, and so your parents made a bomb using the mineral the angels make us mine for. They used it to close the entrance of the cave and no one had to mine for a week," Carol explained.
Jack's eyes widened. "You can make a bomb out of logorite?" Jack asked curiously. "My parents closed off the mines for a week?!" he suddenly shouted in surprise.
Jack for once in his life felt admiration for his parents whom he'd never known.
"Jack, keep this a secret. I'm going to close off the mines tonight," Carol stated.
She looked around for people before she pulled out two stones of logorite from her pocket. Jack looked at her with a blank stare.
"Is that why you got punished today?" Jack asked.
"No, I almost got caught stealing so I made a scene," Carol explained. "Do you want to help?" she suddenly asked.
"Huh?" Jack replied in confusion. "Did you seriously just ask me that, you got beat up today and now you're gonna do something to get yourself beat up again?" Jack asked her.
Carol frowned and looked away.
"And you want me to come along too?" Jack added. "Just be like everyone else... There's no reason for you to resist the way of the Celestial. I mean... Look at it," Jack pointed towards the Celestial.
Carol stared at Jack blankly.
"We follow it and we get nothing!" Carol shouted before she walked past Jack. "If you change your mind, come by," she said with a pained look in her eye.
"Ugh..." Jack sighed.
"I asked you because I thought you might want to kill Alexander Rael..." Carol stated as she walked off.
Jack froze on the spot, his breaths became heavy, 'Kill... Alexander Rael?' he pondered the possibility of getting revenge against the man who killed his parents, the parents Jack never got to meet. He shook his head at the thought, 'Don't be like that idiot...' Jack turned around and walked toward Logos.
The sun had gone down, the once orange clouds were now a dull grey that blended in with the dark blue sky, the path Jack walked on widened as he reached the entrance of Logos, he stood in front of the familiar path which split into three others.
Two of those paths lead around the town towards the various houses the slaves used, and the third path in the middle led to the center of the small town.
Jack continued straight towards the center of Logos, the unlit lantern swung back and forth in his hand. As he got closer to the center of the village the sound of people who conversed about their day grew louder. Famished men and women could be found eating food from traveling merchants from Helios. They boasted about how much they had mined, or who could drink the most. 'Same topic as yesterday... And the day before that...' Jack didn't dare approach them, knowing he'd just be scolded without ever getting a reason as to why.
The variety of merchants from Helios confused Jack as his stomach grumbled. 'What should I eat?' He examined the various options different merchants had, as well as the food people bought from them. His mind was made up immediately as his nose was drawn to an aroma of spices. He turned his head towards the smell and saw plump meat held up over a fire, 'Turkey...' Jack's mouth watered at the charred golden brown skin, the juices dripping into the fire, igniting it even more. Jack approached an older angel next to the fire who sat around an assortment of tomatoes, onions, and lettuce, a stack of thin flatbreads, and a bowl full of white sauce.
"Uh, hello," Jack nervously greeted the merchant angel.
"Greetings! Would you like a scrumptious sandwich!" the merchant offered.
The old man had wrinkled skin, but a cheerful and inviting smile, he wore a cap on his head and his nose had visible blackheads. 'He must be from lower Helios...' The merchant wore dark blue robes which covered his whole body but had sleeves for his arms, and brown leather boots.
"Yes?" Jack replied, confused as to what a sandwich was as he held up the piece of paper he received back in the mines.
The man took it, punched a stamp, and handed it back to Jack.
"You will not regret it!" the old man stated.
Jack looked down at the sheet but noticed he did mark one of the boxes with a stamp, it had his name on it. 'Amalun G...'
"I make the best sandwich in Helios," he stated confidently.
'Sand... Witch?' Jack was intrigued as the man took one of the flatbreads and placed it near the fire, slowly toasting it and making it crisp to the touch. He then stuck a skewer into the meat and carved a piece off with a knife. The chunk of meat was held by the skewer over the fire, giving it a good crust as he put it to the side and picked up the flatbread from earlier with his bare hands. 'Isn't that hot?' Jack watched in awe. The angel turned the flatbread to the other side to get an even toast. After the flatbread puffed up he cut it open with the knife and revealed an empty interior. The man quickly spread a dollop of the white sauce inside, then placed the turkey and an assortment of green and red vegetables within. He tossed in another spoon of sauce, then shook the contents within. He finished by skillfully tucking the filling and wrapping the excess pita around. He handed it to Jack.
"Enjoy," the man told him with a confident grin.
Jack's stomach growled as he analyzed the stuffed flatbread in front of him, 'This a sandwich?' As he bit into it he was met with a variety of things he'd never experienced.
Crispy flatbread softened to the touch by the creamy sauce that had its own assortment of flavors. The vegetables felt cool and refreshing as Jack bit into the piping hot but juicy turkey, 'Oh my...' He couldn't control himself and took another bite, experiencing the wholesome textures and savory flavors of an assortment of spices blended with the rich and creamy sauce.
"How did you make this?!" Jack asked, he took another bite without swallowing the last.
"Haha! Was it so good you forgot?" the man laughed out loud cheerfully.
Jack closed his eyes and chewed 'This is bliss...' he thought, the crunching vegetables were juicy and added a wholesome texture to the wrap, a bit of the filling fell out onto Jack's palm, and he licked it off his hand 'Just the vegetables and the sauce alone is so good...'
"I am definitely coming back tomorrow, thank you so much," said Jack.
"I look forward to it kid!" the merchant replied.
Jack stood up and walked away, he followed the dirt path back to the outskirts of the town as he ate the wrap. The sound of the crowd grew distant as his chewing became the only thing he could focus on.
He walked south through Logos and eventually reached a forked path at the other end of the town. He was met with the familiar view of the vivid green flame against the blue sky far off in the distance on a floating island in the skies southeast of Logos. 'The city of Necropolis always looks cool at night...'
He walked along the path, counting down the various wooden houses made from logs. 'Nine, eight... Seven is over there... Then three should be further down past Carol's house...' Jack read the numbers in his head. As he got to the house labeled with the number three, he stood in front of it with a dazed look. 'This is it...'
Jack walked up to the entrance nervously, he placed his lantern down and put the key into the door. An arm suddenly wrapped around his neck and pulled him backward, the key was yanked out of the door as he was dragged with minimal effort. Jack grunted as the sandwich fell against the dirt, and the delicious contents spilled across the patio.
"Hey- ah!" Jack cried in fear.
The arm around his neck tightened and he couldn't speak or breathe, his feet were pulled off the floor as he was swung around. A hand reached into his pockets and searched him before the hand ripped something from his pocket. A fist suddenly planted into Jack's stomach and his eyes opened wide to see a dark-skinned boy with curly hair and a long face, his teeth grit.
Jack's throat became hoarse as he coughed uncontrollably, he felt chunks of the food from earlier climb up his throat but he held in his reflex to gag. All the while Jack's fist had been clenched around his house key. The same one who reached into his pocket tried to pry the key out of Jack's hand.
"Franklin! All of you! Leave him alone!" a woman from across the street shouted.
After a foot pressed into his stomach twice, the boy behind him shoved Jack to the ground and they took off around the back of the house. Jack's face was flat against the dirt, he slowly pushed himself up as his heart beat rapidly. The sore pain in his stomach returned, and he held in his reflex to puke.
"Th-thank you..." Jack uttered in pain as he looked up at the woman.
She wore a loose white shirt, which was common for farmers to wear, it helped them stay cool while they worked out in the sun. Jack looked up at her face and suddenly felt uncomfortable as he was met with an unforgiving glare, her blue eyes burned with a fury that Jack couldn't explain. Her face looked disgusted at the sight of him even though she just helped him.
"You look like your father... Just disappear," she muttered as she walked into her house.
Jack rolled onto his back and stared up at the cloudy sky, 'Why did she say that... What did they even attack me for...' He checked his pockets. Jack suddenly sat upright, he felt the insides of his pockets once more and his eyes went wide as he realized they had stolen the ticket he got earlier today.
'My next four days' of food...' Jack stood and walked to the side of the house slowly to see if they were still around. The space between the two houses was narrow, but a locked door on the ground led to the cellar under Jack's house. The assailants were long gone. 'Franklin...' The name rang in his head. His neck felt sore from being choked, his stomach hurt as he remembered the face of the dark-skinned boy. Jack approached the door to his small house, he put the key into the door and twisted it. The dark brown door slid forward as the lock was released, creaking as it opened.
Jack picked up his lantern and pickaxe and limped into the house. He was met with a dark empty room with a wooden dining table and several wooden chairs around it. Jack set his lantern down on the table. The room was lit with a faint orange glow, lighting up the several portraits lining the walls, one of which caught Jack's attention.
He approached the wooden framed portrait and took hold of the smoothly curved frame. The dust on the glass obscured the figure of two people, he dragged his hand across it and rubbed the dust out of the way.
The photo contained a bald man with a strong jaw and dark skin. His bright smile made Jack forget the pain he felt from being hurt. Next to him was a brown-haired woman with a soft and gentle smile, she was several months pregnant when the photo was made.
Jack stared at them, specifically looking at her stomach, 'I'm gonna live the same life they did... Everyday... Until I die just like them...' A flood of tears streamed out of his eyes. Jack's breaths got heavier. His knees hit the floor, and he dropped the picture. A chill flooded over him as he remembered the name of the man who killed them.
'Alexander Rael...' His head throbbed, the pain reminded him of the consequence of disobeying the angels. 'Alexander Rael!' he repeated in his head, he clenched his teeth as hard as he could. Jack raised his hands to slam them into the floor before he recalled Carol's words.
"I asked you because I thought you might want to kill Alexander Rael."
He suddenly looked at the door, his fists clenched as his tears continued to run down his face. He stood still for a moment, thinking it over as he wiped the mucus and the tears off his face, he let out a sigh walking down the front hallway of his house. 'I want to kill Alexander Rael... I want all of the angels to vanish...' Jack opened the door and left his house in a hurry, running down the dirt path under the night sky, passing other slaves on their way home, and approaching Carol's house.
Jack walked onto her patio and banged his fist against the door. A pair of steps thumped against the creaking wood from behind the wall of the house. It opened slightly and Carol poked her head out to check who it was. Upon seeing Jack, she opened the door with a mischievous grin on her face.
"So, made up your mind?" Carol asked.
"I'm gonna avenge them," Jack stated staring intently at Carol.
Her smile turned to a surprised look. She had changed into a white coat commonly used by alchemists.
"Alright! I feel a lot better having a partner in crime. Come on, let's get revenge. For my parents and yours!" Carol beckoned.
"No, not just that..." Jack suddenly stated.
He stepped into the house, and the thuds of his boots stepping on the wood broke the silence of the night.
"We'll free ourselves from Logos!" Jack declared.