Flynn touched down on steady ground, stumbling but keeping his footing this time. The others had arrived safely, but for the transition from the dark and concealed recess of a forgotten cavern, their destination could not have been starker. There was no sun. No stars. No moon, nor clouds in the sky. In a fashion, there was no sky. The world they had come upon had neither day nor night and as they turned to get their bearings, it was more apparent that wherever they had landed was not a world at all.
“Okay … the hell?” came Jean’s bewilderment.
“Where have we come to?” Chari followed. “I am uncertain if this is categorically normal.”
“Oh no, it is,” Mack assured. “It’s just you.”
Peering as far along the edge as he could, Flynn realized they were standing atop a massive disc of arranged stones, floating alone in an oblivion of purple and black auroras. Rising readily behind them and obscuring the full visible scope of all that lay ahead was a temple. Consuming the entire space of the discus and extending for miles, its spires loomed and its inward passages delved deep. Each stone had an inner glow as intense as a field of fireflies, and these were the only reason they weren’t stumbling hopelessly in absolute pitch.
“It doesn’t seem to rotate or orbit anything,” Flynn observed, crossing to the ledge and kneeling to look down. There was no visible end to the abyss. “It just … is.”
“Purple,” Mack commented, looking down. He looked up, “Purple,” and then ahead, “Purple,” and finally, at the ground, “Rock.”
“We’re in agreement on that then.” Flynn stood back up.
“I think this is some sort of holy place,” Chari observed.
“That some kinda priestess-y intuition?” Jean asked.
“No, just…” Chari glanced back at the edifice behind them.
“What else would you build a temple like this for?”
There were no answers. For a moment, they watched the expanse, trying to see if something waited in the distant beyond. It became increasingly clear, however, that they had come upon the sole beacon in a vast and vacant microcosm.
“I’d make it my house,” Mack finally decided. “Like, if there was a zombie invasion or something? This is where I’d hole up.”
“A what-be?” Chari asked.
“This place doesn’t seem very defensible,” Flynn observed, cracking his stiffening neck, feeling around with his sixth sense. “It’s perhaps bigger than the island we came from, but there are several routes in … and out.”
Following his meaning, Jean grinned. “Options, yeah?”
It wasn’t just the conduits. Something more tugged at Flynn, something altogether removed from the passages the others wished eagerly to explore. Faint though it was, it reminded him of Scytha, the Reaper he had met back on Sechal. Yet as reminiscent as the sensation was, it was also very different.
“I think there’s someone else here,” Flynn said, going ahead into the temple. Knowing they’d follow, he didn’t spare a glance back.
Lucas Aubrey Paynter holds a Creative Writing degree from California State University Northridge—which looks really good when one talks about how they want to write for a living. A fan of engaging storytelling in any medium, he spent years developing the worlds, characters and conflicts that Flynn and his company encounter, before settling at his desk and writing Outcasts of the Worlds, the first part of a much larger tale to come.
Currently residing with his wife in Burbank, California, Lucas enjoys reading in a variety of formats, potentially overanalyzing character motivations and arcs, and the occasional good, stiff drink.
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