THE AGE OF FLEETS (A Take on an Isekai with Twists)
Hello. After spending two years practicing my writing skills through fanfiction, I've decided to take the challenge of writing an original story based on the rather popular Japanese 'Isekai' stories, but with the hopes of breaking stereotypes. I'm still new to worldbuilding, so some things may sound weird as the story progresses. Constructive criticisms can contribute to improving the story on the way, though.
I plan to post some artwork that I've drawn related to my fic such as maps, characters and designs for the sake of Codices.
I hope you enjoy the prologue!
How would a world end?
It may be a question we humans ask ourselves through many means, it has been answered through many means. Nature is one element of our doom, where it can range from scientifically proven routes such as Global Warming to absolute absurdity like the anger of Higher Beings. The power of nature witnessed through disasters via land and air shows humanity that mother nature is something never to be fought against.
How about destruction wrought to ourselves? As humanity is known to be great creators, we are also unfortunately known to be greater destroyers. Thousands to millions of young men and women would be sacrificed just for a small number of elites to achieve their petty goals in war.
Should any of these consequences be beyond comprehension, the catastrophes resulted would be apocalyptic. Such is what had happened to the Husk of Caravonia.
The Husk of Caravonia, a cluster of islands that made what was left of a western continent of the world of Mundus isn’t as technologically and culturally advanced than our own Earth. The old powers of Caravonia used to resemble the times when European Empires thrived and squabbled over colonies of the East and the New World. Their mechanical ingenuity was in the era when the power of steam propelled heavy machinery such as factories, ships and trains. All of this would have made a steampunk enthusiast’s wet dream if it weren’t for the Cataclysm.
287 years before the present day, archived records reported of a comet that sailed southwards. This was the trigger that ignited the Cataclysm, the catastrophic natural disaster that flooded the world of Mundus. The comet had impacted the southern ice cap, shattering the icy continent into smaller pieces that melted quickly. The flooding was only accelerated by the might of industry’s byproducts, which clouded the air with thick black smoke that trapped the heat of the sun. In just a few decades, a billion lives were lost and grand cities were destroyed as the sea level was raised 150 meters from its original depth. The remnants of the people of Caravonia packed what they could and evacuated to higher ground where the deathly grasp of the sea failed to reach.
The last remaining civilizations of the West now reside in the Husk of Caravonia, fitting of the fact that it is what’s left of the continent.
Even now, petty squabbles between factions over territory, resources and even religion threaten the unarmed people struggling to survive in the watery hell they’ve ended up in. The hostilities that appear and disappear like moles result in the construction of powerful fleets of steam to intimidate each other.
Even after an apocalypse, war has not changed.
The wailing of the train and the screeching of steel wheels dampened as the whiteness stayed in her vision. The demise the Jihye awaited was ...interesting. Silent, pure white being the only thing in her eyes unlike the old friend Darkness that would have awaited the dead in fictional stories. Was this not death? Or at least the hospital bed?
Jihye tried to check on herself, but no matter how much her mind screamed to move, her muscles disobeyed. Whatever situation the girl had ended up prevented her from performing any kind of action other than breathing, although that gave no form of information. Her aural capabilities were null, for there was absolutely nothing she could hear. Could this be the afterlife? Were the higher beings ready to judge her? However, all of these speculations of the afterlife would end.
The white of her sight slowly started to disappear and her hearing seemed to return with the same pace. The first thing Jihye’s ears pick up were muffled pops of what sounded like fireworks and foreign-sounding yells.
The confusion the sounds brought Jihye began to clear as her vision returned, letting her eyes see the cloudy darkened skies with remnants of black smoke rising from the ground. A sudden whizz that followed a thin yellow tracer sprung her muscles to life, finally granting the girl a chance to get up from her lying form. Firstly, she looked down and saw herself in a white t-shirt, bright blue short jeans and red sneakers with white socks. The way she was laying down with her torso slightly elevated signaled that her backpack was still on her back, too. Just like before she was thrown into the train. With herself in check, Jihye finally looked forward.
What she would see was less than ideal.
The first thing she noticed around her was the fact that she was surrounded by unfamiliar buildings. Unlike the monuments of glass, concrete and steel that she was familiar with, these were of grey or red bricks, small rectangular windows and roofs that Jihye would have seen in one of her very old dollhouses. The very ground she was on was a road not of asphalt but rather pebbles and stone. If she remembered correctly, all of this screamed Victorian. However, Jihye also noticed that some of these said buildings were ruined by some powerful impact, as the crumbled remained had hints of smoke.
The Korean girl’s sightseeing tour was quickly ended when she heard more overlapping shouts and cracks of gunpowder. Snapping back to reality, Jihye was brought to the conclusion:
She was in a warzone.
Adrenaline coursed through Jihye’s veins and her muscles in her legs were quick to get her feet on the ground. It was obvious that the street that she found herself in was blocked between two opposing groups of soldiers as bullets whizzed by from both directions. The best thing she could think of was to make a run towards the nearest building, or what was left of it. It was obvious that whatever building she was aiming for was hit with some explosive force. And that’s what she did. The weight of her backpack may have been a large liability before the train hit her, but the surge of adrenaline let the girl ignore the weight.
As soon as she entered the broken door of the broken building, Jihye slammed her back on the nearest wall and released the breath and coughs that she had been holding, the backpack nullifying the sting that would have arched through her back. The goosebumps and chills she had felt while lethal projectiles tear through the air around her was tear jerking, but no matter how much she wished to break down and cry, her mind refused to do so due to the cloud of confusion that enshrouded her.
The dark and dusty atmosphere of the building granted the girl the mood to clear her mind as much as possible and draw up some questions. Where was she? Wasn’t she supposed to be dead? This place doesn’t look like Seoul at all!
Perhaps she could get a few clues of her surroundings if she could see what’s happening outside. Jihye found herself some half broken stairs and proceeded to climb it. Once upstairs, she took a left turn into a room of the same dim dusty atmosphere, where she found herself in a bedroom and a window. Perfect, she could use that to see what exactly was going on outside.
Jihye looked out the window to get a clearer view of the calamitous scene she was just in.
Other than the warzone she knew that she was in judging by the explosions, smoke and gunfire, she noticed the two groups of soldiers were as she confirmed, two different factions. on her left were what seemed like a sorry group of ill-equipped soldiers lacking formation. What stood out from them were thin pieces of green cloth that either tied to their heads like bandannas or on their arms.
The other size was significantly more organized and well equipped with rifles and machine guns. The uniforms they wore were red in color with forage caps. This group even had a large turretless tank in front of them with steam billowing from a funnel behind.
Where the hell was she?
Just as Jihye was about to duck down to avoid bullets from hitting her and question her very existence, large burning globule formed itself from the hands of a man from the green cloth arm. With the thrust of his arm, the man essentially threw the globule at the tank.
As soon as the globule of fire made contact with the hull of the vehicle, a large explosion of the same color took place of the tank. When the smoke and purple light faded away, all that was left was a burning metallic husk. Seeing all of this happen, Jihye could only hang her jaw down in realization:
That had to be magic.
As soon as the tank was brought down, the tide began to change in favor of the greencloths. The chaos for the redrobes caused by their tank’s destruction seemed to have broke their coordination, which the former soldiers began to use as their advantage. Jihye would have watched what would happen if this was a game. Since this was reality (in which she hoped not), she couldn’t bring herself to look at the increasing number of corpses. She pulled her eyes away from the brutal sight that was about to unfold. Gunshots, yells of rage and blood curled screams of pain rang through whatever place this was. The sounds pierced Jihye’s ears and eventually crawled their way to her heart. It shattered her mind once again as she finally gave in to her feelings. Her legs gave up and her eyes spilled tears.
Silence, once again. No more gunfire rang through her ears. The tears that had drenched her face had dried up now. Finding herself on the ground, Jihye stood up against the will of her muscles. Rubbing her eyes, the girl found herself in the same dusty dark room, only dimmer than before.
It wasn’t a dream.
It must have been hours since the firefight between the two armies. By looking out the window, Jihye realized that the sun was setting. Even though the gunfire may have ceased, the girl thought that leaving the building she was in was still probably not the greatest of ideas. But if she was to stay, what would she do? From what she remembered from running into this building, she hadn’t seen a kitchen and much of the building was also crumbled down, most likely with explosives.
Nevertheless, Jihye decided to investigate. Fuelled by curiosity and the need for survival, she steeled her heart and forced her feet to motion. Heading out the room she cowered in and climbing down the stairs. The silence granted Jihye the chance to reinvestigate the place she was in, and the first thing she had noticed was that the bottom floor was in fact a corridor with a door on the right excluding the entrance. By peeking through the said door, she was not greeted by a room, but rather the outside world, filled with rubble and what seemed to be remains of a chair. This must have been the living room, perhaps even the kitchen.
Jihye sighed. This house was hopeless. Well, since everything seemed calmed for now she could…
What sounded like a gun preparing to fire from behind made Jihye’s heart leapt and the first thing her instincts told her to do was bolt her hands up in the air. She had recently saw a firefight, why should she relax now? She didn’t know how non combatants were treated in whatever hell she was in. Should she run? What was the point when the city would be infested with armed men? Without knowledge of her whereabouts, she had nowhere to go. Even if she did she would have to suffer bullying again. Death felt like a better choice.
“Oi! What the fuck are you doing?! Lower that bloody gun!”