by thefourpartland

Ira met up with her trainees at the portal, one of the last functioning pieces of high magic in Yn Dref. A vast ring bolted to the ground in the central square of the skycity, through it could be seen the huts and shelters of the village below them, and the people going about their day. But between her group and the portal stood both a fence and other guards, alert and skittish.

While the gateway might be a vast artefact, it still drew magical energy from the surroundings. Magic that would otherwise be used to help keep the skycity afloat. Thus it was that anyone seeking to travel from Yn Dref to the ground below needed to get approved for the travel, although there was enough leeway in the process that only those truly unnecessary trips tended to be withheld.

A quick command set her squad of eight into two ragged lines, their armour pitted with age, and their weapons likewise. Given that the worst they should find today was a band of wolves, that would not pose much of a problem.

“I know some of you haven’t spent much time on the ground, but it isn’t much different from here in Yn Dref. And all the people we’ll see are Hanians, so you’re among friends. First things first – I know it’ll be different, but never stare. That’s as rude as can be. Secondly, we’re going into the outlands, on the very edge of the settlement and maybe beyond. You won’t know how to deal with terrain like that, unless you were born down there, so make sure to follow what I say exactly, and to keep others in sight at all times. Now, any questions before we go down?”

The blacksmith’s lad raised his hand, which drew an acknowledgement from Ira.

“What is that… thing you’re carrying?”

A genuine chuckle escaped before Ira remembered she was supposed to be stern.

“It’s a crossbow, of sorts, I’ve been building and designing myself.”

“But it’s over six feet long!”

“If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see me use it when we go down. Now form up!”

Obediently, the trainees shifted formation as Ira trotted forward to the guards, who gestured her through with a quick wave. Her students jogged through behind her.

“This is going to be a little disorienting, so when you step through, try not to vomit on anyone.” Which Ira had done, and at great amusement to the rest of the squad, since she’d covered her squad leader right after stepping through the portal. Not one of her finest moments as a member of the Yn Dref guards.

Standing tall, she strode through the portal at a fast trot, taking clear to be several steps clear before the first of the trainees was dumped out onto the ground below. And then collapsed to one knee, gasping for breath, as the aftereffects of the trip caught her. The best description of it she’d ever heard was that it felt like being kicked in the balls while all the air was sucked from her lungs. Now, she didn’t know exactly what that was like, but given how many of the male soldiers had agreed with it, it must be pretty close to true.

It was certainly unpleasant, and within moments there were trainees scattered about, retching or nearly so as they felt the impact of the transition. Only one of the women stayed standing, although the grimace on her face said that it was more an act of willpower than anything else.

After several long breaths steadied her, Ira rose to her feet and looked over the motley and somewhat vomit spattered group. “On your feet, the one thing I’m sure of is the creatures we’ve come to visit aren’t going to hang around and wait for you to recover. And make sure to clean one another off, you all smell enough already.”

Once the squad had composed themselves properly, Ira led them off at a trot. Might as well take them on a tour of the village before nightfall, when the real work would begin.


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