Unbeknownst to the residents of Little Rockwell, there was a whole other world right beneath their feet. At least ten stories below them lay *U’dreg Rookweh, Underground Rockwell, a Blood town. It was a mesh of caves and large tunnels left over from Little Rockwell’s old mining days. The Blood had further developed it with help from the Order of the Mimic’s Creed, a secret order dedicated to the protection of the Blood of the Earth.
Structures of stone and clay spanned further than the eye could see. Some rose as high as the ceiling, acting as pillars of support. Although the walls were quite smooth, finding a straight edge would be a difficult feat as lumps and bumps protruded everywhere. Windows made from tree roots were twisted into complex patterns and appeared to be randomly dotted along the structures. Vines crept some of the walls with flowers ranging from a wide spectrum of colours. It was a sight to behold, especially for first-time visitors.
Nova Flies fluttered around the ceiling. They shone brighter than their firefly cousins and were native to the underground world. The Nova Flies were attracted to the Aerious Moss growing on the cave ceiling. They shared a symbiotic relationship; the flies ate the moss and the moss grew from the waste left behind. To prevent overgrowth, the moss bed was tended to weekly. This system was an attempt to mimic the sun’s glow. During night-time, the flies would be gathered, leaving some to resemble blinking stars in the sky. The rest flew to their nesting place atop decorative lanterns on the ground, illuminating the streets. Stray flies would wander the night, enchanting passersby.
Aerious Moss played another vital role for this underground community: generating oxygen for their aerobic visitors and inhabitants. The Blood did not require oxygen to survive, but the flora and fauna that they adored, did. Their love for nature pressed them to develop this framework, because — Phoenia forbid — the townsfolk must never go above ground, or so they’ve been told since the town was formed. The Blood’s chrome complex, bestial form, and their insurmountable strength would incite too much fear in the world above.
Twas the night before Tim limped to work. It was quiet in U’dreg Rookweh — too quiet. Only a couple of screeching bats could be heard in the distance. There weren’t many Nova Flies blinking in the ‘sky’ — perhaps too many had been collected that night. Tim had just finished his rounds around town with his makeshift Blood partner, a dark grey wolf-type.
F’nrir was his name. He came from out of town and had been temping as a *Gardios, a Blood partner, for the past two weeks, waiting for his new post to start. Tim had only known him for three night shifts.
The Blood towered almost two Blood heads over Tim, who wasn’t exactly short himself. His muscular build would have made any bodybuilder jealous — it made Tim jealous — and his giant wolf-clawed hands could send the bravest man trembling in fear. He probably could have snapped a small tree in half if he desired with his strong jaws and razor sharp fangs. Only his yellow-orange eyes, nose, and lower jaw were visible under the dark grey pelt covering his neck, shoulders, and upper back like a cowl. A thicker pelt, brown, was fastened around his waist and fell just above the knees, held in place by a wooden belt with stone elements. The necklace he wore had tooth-shaped stones.
How cliché, Tim had thought when he first met him. But he looks so shweet! It meant cool in Tim’s dictionary.
“Today was my last day!” he exclaimed to Tim, sounding rather excited. “I start my new job tomorrow!” At that moment, he seemed more like a pup than a gigantic killer wolf.
“Dude, congrats!” said Tim. “Haven’t known you long, but it’s been nice working with you.” He gave him a fist bump, slightly regretting it as his right hand throbbed after contact. “Where will you be working?”
“A place that all *B’lode fear,” he responded with a huge grin, displaying most of his sharp teeth.
Sometimes he just seemed so darn creepy.
“That … doesn’t sound … ominous …” said Tim, attempting to put up a brave front as F’nrir continued flashing his toothy grin.
After they parted ways, Tim started heading home. His actual partner, Terry, which was short for Terranis, was taking care of family business in his obscure home village, *Qu Ary. Terranis had been a Gardios for as long as he had been a Keeper. Jason, Tim’s best friend, and his Gardios, Raese, were off on a mission to check on the town medic, Mr. Stewie Hayward. Apparently, he hadn’t been responding to the Creed’s call to return. But he had a good reason for not wanting to answer; he had just lost his wife to old age.
Tim sighed, sulking as he made his way home by himself and wishing Terry hadn’t taken the ATV with him.
U’dreg Rookweh - Underground Rockwell
Gardios - Guardian: A Blood who took the Oath of Gardios
B’lode - Blood of the Earth
Qu Ary - Quarry