I let my fingers graze the wall of the tunnel as we descended, feeling the perfectly cut surface beneath them, seeing as much as feeling the tiniest fractures in the stone. It was rare to see this level of craftsmanship in the City, unheard of to see it beyond the Wall (unless you counted the Warmind compounds). The tunnel was perfectly lit by thin light strips hidden where the seams of the ceiling and the floor met the walls, a stark contrast to our descent in its sister compound when the Fallen had attacked the other settlement. I had so many questions.
Our guide was silent. Her red robes swished from side to side with each step, and the years of dust and filth that had accumulated on them were a stark contrast with the clean spaces we walked through. Her Ghost was also silent, and their hushed behaviour had desecended over our whole group.
Eventually the sound of voices echoed up the tunnel to us, and we reached a thoroughfare that branched off in many directions. What looked like a cross between a market and a city square under a great stone dome, with a single yellow globe casting a sunlit aura over the whole space, was crowded with people going about their business. It was almost a city, albeit a small city. As we passed through the crowd of people parted to either side to let the red Warlock pass but paid us no more attention than a brief glance.
“You’d think they see Guardians everyday,” said Findlay. Our guide laughed, and the weight of silence was broken.
“Why did you call for us? For Guardian aid?” asked Arianna as we walked through the crowd.
“All will be explained.”
“Wonderful, cryptic Warlocks,” muttered Findlay. I elbowed him in the ribs and he silenced.
We were eventually led to a large circular room, and found 2 more Warlocks, similarly attired, hovering in a strange tableau. Strands of neural networking crowded the space from ceiling to floor and glowing with pulsing energy, and the Warlocks floated between them, running their fingers over the strands as if coaxing them.
“Welcome to the heart of our settlement,” said our guide. “I am Lyra, and these are my sisters, Persephone and Cassandra.” The other warlocks descended to our level – it was impossible to tell the difference between the 3. “We have called you here to ask for your help, and provide insight if you so desire.”
Magnus reached out and hovered a hand over the strands. “Nanite constructs.”
“Constructs that the Kings have finally come to understand, thanks to the SIVA outbreak.” Lyra gestured to the nanite strands, some as thick as trees. “SIVA will seem like a rash compared to the plague that will spread if we don’t stop the Kings. That’s why we summoned you here. Help us Guardians, and you help yourselves.”