Vault of The Starborn Machine

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Chapter 1: The Journey to Ellomyr

Part 1: The Unwanted Heroes

(Coorelates to Posts 1-2)

A booming baritone echoed out over the horizon.


The speaker was a 6’3” automaton made of black and silver plates that made him resemble a mechanical knight. He was holding a pair of fruit baskets, and striking the most heroic pose a man toting fruit baskets could feasibly make.

The elderly woman standing before him gave a nervous smile in response, “Yes, it was very fortunate that you came by when you did. It would have been quite the hike back to the village if I had to carry those baskets myself.” The woman’s voice was distant, as if her mind wasn’t fully committed to the words. That said, it wasn't because she was having second thoughts about his help. No, she had her second thoughts the moment she flagged him down, and he turned towards her to reveal a gleaming star housed within the depths of his chest. She eyed the sun-shaped, strongglass window on his breastplate once more. Now was the time for third and fourth thoughts.

“Don’t you worry your frail, frail human bones dear villager, for carrying great burdens is but one among my many heroic talents!” The knight said, flashing the facsimile of a smile.

The comment struck home, and the lady winced. She was in her sixties, not her ninties, and liked to tell herself that she was aging like a fine wine. “Actually, now that I think about it, maybe I should carry those back myself. Its good exercise for my 'frail' bones, and I wouldn’t have to worry about slowing you down.”

“NONSENSE! I would be a terrible hero to allow such an aged person to carry load like this. Why look at you. The weight of the responsibility alone would probably snap your feeble flesh body like a dry twig! I shudder to think what the actual weight would do to you.”

The woman glowered as the automaton started marching off in the direction of Ellomyr. Had the humidity this morning not aggravated her bad back, she told herself she would have snatched the baskets from him, and marched to the village all by herself. Unfortunately, right now, even the thought of trying such a thing sent a twinge of pain shooting through her fit to rival the emotional blow the construct had dealt.

“Don’t worry miss,” said a stage whisper, “He calls me frail all the time too.”

The woman turned towards the voice. The speaker was a young mutant girl not even five feet tall. The girl was bald, had a thin tail, and skin the color and sheen of a koi fish. She was also built like a twig; hardly the kind of person one would wish their strength compared to. Still, the child was the first person to call her, “miss”, in several weeks, and the woman was growing desperate for anything resembling a compliment right now. “I see. I’m sorry dear, but I don’t think I caught your name.”

The child set her feet a shoulder’s width apart, and planted her fists on her hips, “My name is Ro. I’m a sidekick, but one day I’m going to be a hero as great as Hiero.” She said it with a look so fiercely confident that it was almost as if she was trying to will the world itself into believing her.

It wasn’t working.

“So why have you…’heroes’ come all the way out to the peaceful town of Ellomyr?” asked the woman, hating herself for continuing this line of conversation.

“Justice!” Boomed the knight.

“Justice!” Echoed the child.

‘Insanity!’ thought the woman as she glanced between the two. The machine was a lost cause. Automatons by their very nature were mad, or at least so she had been told. The kid however, was probably just playing along. The right words might save this unfortunate child. “Ro,” the lady started, “wanting to be a hero like Mr. Hiero is a very noble and impressive goal, but maybe you-”

The woman stopped when she met the mutant’s hopeful eyes. Abhorrent was what some people might call her, but there was something charming about the child. The kid was almost cute in her own alien sort of way. Perhaps it was just the look in her eyes; the way they seemed to radiate an idealistic mirth and confidence unfettered by the realities of the world. The lady wondered to herself when was the last time she had felt that way. At what point had she stop seeing the potential of what life could be, and settle for what it gave her? Was it too late to change it back to the way it once was? Hope began to take root once more in a jaded heart. Perhaps, she considered, she was being too quick to label these supposed heroes as false. Perhaps the child’s dreams weren’t the folly they seemed. The lady sighed and gave the young girl a reluctant smile, “-maybe you should try to be an even better hero than Mr. Hiero.”

Moved, the child gave a tremendous smile. She shouldn’t have. Ro’s smile stretched from ear to ear, and was filled with rows of teeth like some nightmarish fusion of a shark and crocodile's mouth.

The woman fell to the ground in horror, looked frantically between the two monsters before her, and gave a single terrified chuckle. Then, she suddenly seemed to regather her composure, and rose back to her feet smiling. She raised a single finger as if to say something, and then bolted away as fast as her legs could carry her, back problems be damned.

“Wow.” said Hiero as he watched the lady’s figure disappear into the horizon, “She was so impressed by our helpfulness she ran off ahead to tell the village all about it. I'm touched.”

Ro glanced over to Hiero. It was nice to have someone as wise as him around. She had assumed the woman had fled in terror. Now however, feeling slightly better about herself, she uncovered her mouth, and smiled once more.

Ellomyr was going to be an adventure.