This is a prompt piece gift for @A-Random-Commenter.
She gave me a picture of her character Caracia as a prompt. Find the post here.
I added to existing worldbuilding and backstory for this little tale. :)
The negotiations had not gone according to plan. In fact, they did not end up happening at all. All that effort, thought Caracia, and the Sikrathi decide to turn peace negotiations into an ambush.
She distastefully slashed her claws – crackling with yellow energy – at the approaching Sikrathi, forcing them back. Caracia did her best to act fierce and scary – but she didn’t feel particularly fierce or scary. She just felt disappointed. And I thought I had made so much progress.
Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted movement. Some of the warriors were trying to sneak around her. She was fairly certain that they weren’t attempting to surround her, but rather to pursue the fleeing Hiraki. Caracia quickly activated her wings and, with one powerful flap, she leapt in front of the flanking Sikrathi. She swept their legs out from under them with her tail.
“Nope. Where do you think you’re goi- AHH!” She roared in pain as something stabbed into her right hind leg. A spear had buried itself in her. How was that able to cut through my scales? She spotted a Sikrathi with three more spears floating around it. Oh, I see. I should have paid more attention to their chanters.
The chanter was preparing to launch another one at her. Caracia quickly glanced in the direction she had told the Hiraki ambassadors to flee. They had long since vanished into the forest.
“Well, time to go. You lot should really consider playing nicer with others.”
Another spear was loosed at her. She swiped her claw through the air in its path, tearing open a rift between dimensions. The spear vanished through it and then Caracia herself jumped through. She closed it immediately behind herself so that she wouldn’t be followed.
Now floating in the space between dimensions, Caracia curled herself to see her leg. She gingerly touched the spear, flinching as it sent another wave of pain through her leg. She wouldn’t be able to take this out without causing more damage. I’ll need medical attention for this. But it may be best if I try to break off most of the haft so that it doesn’t catch on anything.
Caracia held onto the wood that stuck out of her leg with both hands. Gritting her teeth, she prepared to snap it. With the hand closer to the wound, she held it as firm as possible, and with the other she broke the haft. She suppressed another roar of pain into a growl through her teeth. Angrily, she threw the broken stick at the other spear that was now floating around aimlessly some distance off – no longer propelled by the Sikrathi chanter.
An orange portal opened some distance off. At first, it gave Caracia a fright, but then she realized it must be another dimensional traveler. But then it flickered and closed without anyone coming through. That’s weird. Wait, where did the spear and a half go? I should get out of here.
Caracia charged her claws again and tore open her own portal. As she propelled herself towards it, the orange portal flickered back into existence. This time, it was right in front of her. It absorbed her yellow one. She couldn’t stop in time, and flew through it. She crashed down onto a smooth marble floor.
“Oh!” A surprised exclamation was made. “Uh- it glitched. My proof is here now: a beast unheard of before. The other world exists.” The voice sounded human.
Caracia quickly scrambled to her feet, looking around herself. She was in a large circular room filled with marble ornaments. The main feature of the room was a massive curved marble table, behind which sat five important-looking humans. To Caracia’s left were another human, a large queer machine, and the vanishing spears. Robed figures stood arrayed at the edges of the room.
She barely had time to take this all in before the central one of the humans behind the desk issued an order. “Put it to sleep. It seems our… investment in you may have been somewhat fruitful, Renyake.”
The figures at the edge of the room stepped forward in unison, performing hand gestures.
“Wait!” Caracia tried to shout, but they had already finished. She fell to the ground, in a deep sleep.
Caracia began to stir from her dreamless slumber. She heard rattling and mumbling a little distance off.
“Got to figure out what the beast did to my machine.”
She opened her eyes to find herself in a large cage. A few meters away was a human, busy tinkering with items on a workbench. He was on the opposite side of the bench to her.
“Don’t want to give a broken machine to the Council. They would not be very happy.”
She sat up. Pretty big cage. She was in some sort of lab. Not a modern lab like ones in her home dimension. This one seemed to be more in a steampunk-like style. But it was used for engineering and experimenting nonetheless.
“The creature has woken up at last. I think the Magi-guard outdid themselves.”
Something stood out amongst the weird and wonderful technology in the workshop. A book and quill. They were a bit archaic for even this era, but that was not what caught Caracia’s attention. It was that the quill wrote in the book whenever the human spoke, dipping itself in the inkwell beside it each time he paused.
“At least that gave me a chance to address the creature’s wound.” The human was occasionally glancing up from his work to look at Caracia. “I wonder whether my portal saved it from being hunted, or the lives of its victims. It certainly looks to be of the predatory variety. Now that it is awake, I should get a picture. Sketch subject.”
The book turned a page by itself while a charcoal stick flew into the air and began rapidly moving back and forth on the new page.
Caracia sighed and looked to her hind leg which the spear had impaled. The wound had been neatly bandaged. The bandages must have been changed at least once, as these ones were still a clean white.
“Thank you for tending to my wound, but I will have you know that I did not need saving. I had already escaped my attackers when your portal brought me here.”
The human suddenly stood up from the table he had been tinkering at. He looked at Caracia with renewed interest. “Intriguing, the creature looked to its wound and made a complex series of growls after my last statements. I hypothesize that it must have at least emergent-level sentience. I had not expected to find an intelligent species so quickly, if at all. This makes my find even greater.”
“What do you mean ‘complex growls’? I’m talking to you. And, of course I’m intelligent! Haven’t you at least heard of dragons before? In stories, legends and such.”
“It continued vocalizing seemingly in response to what I said.” He walked out from behind the table. He came nearer to the large cage that I was in, but still kept a wary distance. “Dialogue: Can you understand me?”
I sighed and nodded my head. Something wasn’t right here. Why couldn’t he understand me?
“It nodded in response to my statement. Dialogue: I will be right back. I need to try to find something I can test your level of sentience with.” The human walked off, mumbling “That sounded stupid,” to himself. The quill didn’t move when he said that.
“Are you serious? Why not just ask me questions to which I can respond with at least motions?”
Caracia decided not waste any time, she looked for the door of the cage. After finding it, she quickly sent power to her claws and took a swipe at the lock. To her surprise, her claws bounced right off. More surprising was that she did not see energy crackling around her claws. Even more surprising was that her claws were now mostly orange. The standard yellow was now only occasionally visible between orange clouds inside it.
Maybe that’s why. Caracia formed a hypothesis of her own. She decided to test it. She lay down and closed her eyes. She reached out mentally. She could sense minds around her in a large radius. She could also sense further into the many dimensions than usual. However, she could not affect them very much. This confirmed her thoughts.
She found the mind of the only human in the lab and listened in for a couple of moments. He was still absentmindedly searching for some form of puzzle.
I guess I could ask Fyira to have the Magitech Council increase my funding again if I can’t fix this machine, or they decide to cut my funding for whatever reason. The name ‘Fyira’ held a huge amount of meaning and love. Caracia guessed that it must be his spouse. But with the re-elections so close, I don’t want to be the cause of yet more rumors. She is the most effective candidate by far, but I don’t want her opponents to carve away at her votes by claiming even more that she is a male sympathizer. It’s bad enough that I have my own lab and a tertiary education.
Caracia had been about to try some form of telepathic communication, but she felt she had already intruded too much. Besides, she already knew what the result would be. She would only be able to communicate basic emotions. The orange energy of the human’s machine had bound itself to her.
Orange energy was pathetic for output but great for input – if you could generalize like that. She wouldn’t be able to speak anything but Draconic. She couldn’t open portals nor even charge up her claws or wings.
“Well, this is just great,” she said to no one in particular, “I guess I might be stuck in this topsy-turvy 19th-century dimension for a while before I get home.” She continued fiddling with the lock.
Orange energy is great for input…
A plan began to form in her mind. First, she would need to get out the cage one way or another. She could then use her enhanced telepathy to borrow from the human’s knowledge. After this, she could figure out a way to transfer the orange energy back to the machine. And maybe then she could help him when she could speak again. He seemed to have his perceptions about dimensions wrong. Pfft, ‘the other world’. ‘World’ should be plural.
Of course, this all hinged on how much she could communicate, how cooperative the human was and whether or not this ‘council’ interfered. But, if it all worked out…
“Maybe I won’t be stuck here for so long after all.”