Dec 17, 2018 5:11 AM
I have a crush on demon cam not the kind where you kiss them the kind where you torture them
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There'd been a tunnel collapse three weeks ago. Oksa hadn't worried too much. It was a big, big cave, hastily dug. It had started as an extension of the subway tunnels into bomb shelters when the bombings had started aboveground, and then for half a century the bombings had not stopped, and the caves had been expanded and expanded and expanded, farther downwards as the bombs got bigger and more dangerous. Twenty-eight million people had lived in the city, once, and most of them were dead but still millions of them now lived beneath it. That was not how you were supposed to build caves, and it was unsurprising that sometimes there was a tunnel collapse. She'd looked up the obituaries, donated a little money to their children.

There'd been another one a week later. Bigger and worse, cutting off a sizable artery of the city. That wasn't the kind of thing that could be expected every once in a while. It might've been the Elves, testing new underground weapons that could shake the world violently enough to destroy all the underground cities. That'd destroy the Elves, too, of course, but perhaps they didn't care. If everyone fell into the Elf gods' hands wasn't that an Elf victory? The Elves didn't have any children, she'd heard. Maybe if your own cities were empty of innocents and empty of laughter then it didn't seem like it mattered if the world kept spinning. 

Two days after that the ground had lurched under her feet on her way to work and the baby had bitten his tongue and ten tunnels had collapsed. A couple thousand people had met that night in an old subway station, big and stably built by Dwarves before the war, and huddled there and talked about leaving, maybe. In Angband you could live above ground, because the Elves didn't dare venture near. Angband was crowded and probably all the housing was below ground but even so, you could take your children up aboveground, sometimes, and show them the stars.

You heard bad things about Angband too but, then, all you heard were bad things these days. 

Five days later while they were trying to convince Angband to send an escort for them there was the worst earthquake yet, the city sundered into four or five pieces, some of them likely without any ventilation. They'd decided to leave without the escort. They'd had to use a set of emergency escape tunnels whose trajectory didn't match their map. They reached the surface and started walking, possibly in the entirely wrong direction. There were seven thousand of them. The children gaped at the sky. She couldn't, it turned out, show them the stars, because at some point in the last fifty years the sky had filled with too much soot for any stars to shine. 

They debated briefly whether to start walking right away or to wait until the sun rose and it became clear what direction they should be walking in; they decided to start moving, because if they were spread out by the time they were visible to Elves they'd be a less tempting target for bombs and missiles, and because Akka was 90% sure this was the right direction. 

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A pair of people - appear. Like a Maia dispensing with an illusion of thin air, there they are. One's a human in an outlandish outfit, and one's a human-inspired Maia in half an outlandish outfit, the lack accommodating a set of bat wings and a tail in dark blue. They both look really confused. The human starts snapping at the ?Maia? in an unfamiliar language; he doesn't reply, just looks incredulously at her.

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- nearby orcs fall obediently to the knees. They look confused. They don't venture a question, though.

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The woman looks at them, bewildered. She snaps at the ?Maia? again. The Maia says something and produces out of nothing a rolled up piece of paper, which the woman spreads out on the ground and makes a mark on with a pen she has in her bag.

Nothing happens.

She starts shouting at the ?Maia? again, who holds up his hands defensively.

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Angry Maiar. The orcs shiver a bit. Oksa's baby cries and she clasps her hands over his mouth very tightly. (The Maiar don't understand about babies. They don't even understand why people have trouble holding still while you kill their babies.)

 

 

The place where these two people have found themselves is dark, but starting to get a little lighter. It might be sunrise in an hour. The air is smoky. The migrants farther away have noticed what's going on, and are edging away with their heads bowed. No one has taken off running yet.

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The woman pulls out a rectangle and it glows white; she shines it around to get a better look. She takes a deep breath and sighs and starts taking long steps towards the nearest orcs. The winged one follows her.

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They're humanoid, but really ugly; their faces are jarringly asymmetrical and their skin is warped and greyish and covered in pustules. They tremble. The most distant ones start running away. 

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The lady Maia starts speaking loudly and pointing at things such as herself, her companion, the ground, and the orcs, as though she suspects her audience may be deaf. The winged one facepalms behind her; she doesn't notice.

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It's got to be an Elf language, but it doesn't actually sound very Elfy. Maybe she is new at using a voice to make sounds, in which case she'll presumably get tired of it soon. Cringing orcs wait. 

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She appears to be trying to ask questions! She's getting increasingly frustrated that none of the orcs want to help her out with that.

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And they sure are miserable about the fact that she is frustrated! Oksa holds her hand over the baby's mouth until he goes limp, unconscious, and then stops and rocks him quietly, hoping he won't start crying again when he wakes up. One of the bad things you hear about Angband is people there advising each other it's not a good idea to do that too often. She hadn't expected to need to know that but, well. 

Maybe the Maia will take several days to get angry enough to kill them and by then the escort will arrive. 

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She is very angry but so far not in a killing way. The male Maia's wings are rustling agitatedly.

At considerable length she leaves off trying to convince the orcs to establish lines of communication, and snaps at him again. He - relaxes marginally, creates a few more things, and puts them on the ground. She starts pacing, then demands a chair and a sandwich and gets one.

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The orcs relax too, observing this with some curiosity but not actually as much as you'd expect from people who have never seen a Maia before. 

Someone gestures at the sky and murmurs. It takes everyone else a little while to do the same calculation. The sun is coming up over there, which means they headed in the wrong direction. 

That might mean they're in lands the Elves claim by now.

More of the distant people break off running. 

Someone tentatively attempts to use gestures to ask the strange apparently-non-mindreading Maia whether they may leave.

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She certainly has something to say about that, but what it is is unclear! Her companion sighs and peers at the things on the ground.

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They try very hard to decipher her opinions. They start running anyway when airplanes appear through the clouds. 

 

The airplanes sweep out to catch the ones who've travelled farthest first, and then start dropping bombs.

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The lady Maia screams, then jabbers at the male Maia, and then the bombs start exploding before they hit the ground.

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The airplanes respond to that by pulling up above the cloud cover. It's quiet again.

It's dawn now and possible to see that this place is mostly bombed-out wasteland in every direction as far as the eye can see.  It's also possible to see how many orc refugees there are; thousands. Most of them keep running, but some of them notice that the Maiar did that, and stop, and cautiously head back in their direction. They are kind of smiling at the winged one, who seems to be thoroughly the more useful of the two. 

 

 

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The winged one nevertheless doesn't try to talk to them, though he inclines his head in their direction. He endures some snapping from the wingless one, who feels the need to harangue him for some reason. Then she checks the devices on the ground; they are unharmed. She picks one up and does some things to it, then shows them a screen reading, in not very grammatical Tege, "Where are this?!?!"

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An orc holding a baby brightens up considerably at this. "We're in Elf-lands. They'll come back. North it's Erdegar and north of that it's Angband, that's where we're going. Oh - do you need me to write -" She pantomimes this.

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The woman nods vigorously at the pantomime. She jabbers at the winged one and he produces paper and pens.

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And she writes, "This is Elf land. North is Erdegar. North of Erdegar is Angband. We were going to Angband. We will serve you instead if you can stop the Elves."

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There follows some more chatter in her language and some more materializing of things and some frowning at the device and finally she writes, "How do I got here?"

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"I don't know that."

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"But you must did bring me here! I didn't do! And it didn't do either!" she replies. "And circle not worked!"

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The orc flinches. 

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"Answer question!" reads the screen; she shakes it at them.

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