Theodore Hall: Teaser

Just a little look at what might be my next longform project.

	Theodore Hall… March… 200X

	It's hard to remember what day it is. I’ve been out for a while, I guess dying will do that to you. I haven’t touched this recorder since high school, now I’m on the Demi-Human Integration Force and I’m recording this while curled up on the floor. It's cold. I’ve been cold all day. The blood is finally off of me, but even the hot water barely helped. I–
	I should start over from the beginning of this. Just say it out loud and get this out of my head. 
	I remember waking up. Spires, floating pillars of rock rose above me. The blown out house I laid in seemed well traveled, a long burnt out campfire and torn up sleeping bags made me wonder what happened to the squatters who had been here weeks before me. I shivered and panted, the sunlight was bluish around me because of the mana scattered through the air. With shaking limbs and shallow breaths, I stood to my feet. A cold, early spring wind blew through the window and doorless house and out the side where the wall had been torn off and lifted into the air. 
	There were holes in my coat. The once gray colored coat was now stained a dark crimson and brown by blood. Lifting up my shirt, I found that the blood had dried on my skin as well, but no wounds were present. Despite that, my chest still hurt as did my ringing head. Down to my very soul, I ached. 
	The sundered lands stretched around me. A place where the long dormant mana of earth had been forcefully yanked out. It still hung in the air, dying everything blue with its shimmering aura. I needed to go. I stumbled as I dragged myself out of the building. Long, unkempt grass waved in the billowing wind. It made me shiver again as I stared at the two mile long scar in the earth. I could see the crystalized mana growing within it, but no one dared to get near. Well, the squatters would try to. But the body I saw was a grizzly scene. A mana vortex must have grabbed them, crunching their body and bones before tossing them aside. It was just a reminder that I didn’t belong here.
	Remembering my training, I picked up a few small rocks, throwing them as I went. Anywhere I saw a shimmer toward my path, I would throw a rock. I walked through a torn up town, the cracking had done a number on it. Buildings were toppled, walls were torn off, cars were burnt, and every electrical pole had been knocked down. I could tell that someone had been through here to scavenge what they could of copper or cars. I tiptoed across the asphalt and concrete, listening for people or creatures. A car blocked the road, but I didn’t dare head down the alleyways. I threw a few rocks across it, only for lighting to strike one of them on the other side. I whimpered as I crawled through the back seat of the car. Another sleeping arrangement had been left here for weeks. Beyond the downed backseat, I saw a backpack that I grabbed. It was like it had already been torn open by animals that had ripped through the food they had stashed. I pushed it away and continued my limping trek through the long since abandoned town. I pushed myself against a brick wall and avoided the sundered lightning that seemed to have killed many birds.
	I fell to my knees as I rounded a corner. My exhaustion and hunger was taking its toll, but I needed to keep moving. As I sat on the concrete, trying to regain my strength I quickly did inventory of my belongings. A short sword hung from my hip, I had a wallet and keys in my pocket, but if I had a phone it was nowhere to be seen. Inside my coat was a badge for the Demi-Human Integration Force. It was brass with red letters on it. I got back up, grabbing a piece of wood as I went to keep throwing on my way. 

	I limped out of the town and towards the edge of the sundered area. The bluish tint to the world was fading the further I went, putting me slightly at ease. I was now surrounded by grass and an eerie silence. As I neared the chain link fence, I felt like I was home free. I was nearly out, but the fence was covered in barbed wire. Of course, I saw the results of people sneaking into this place. With one hand on the fence, I walked along it, looking for the checkpoint. I kept trudging through the grass until I heard the sounds of chatter, men laughing and joking with one another. 
	“Hey…” I weezed as I drew close, feeling light-headed and woozy. Stumbling out of the grass and onto the cracked asphalt road leading from the checkpoint, I started to crawl, “Hey,” I cried again. As I started to black out, I saw a few of the armored men hurry toward me, my weakness overcame me.

	The bitter sludge dripping down my throat woke me up. The familiar taste of a potion was like a sweet nectar to me. My hands went to the potion, gripping the rounded glass and wrenching it from the hands of my healer. The thick liquid sat in my stomach. 
	“Careful there, Theodore,” A man chuckled, “Try not to hurt yourself.”
	As I finished the slightly apple tasting potion, I panted again. I was sitting on the ground, my back against a small watch tower. I looked around, trying to gather my bearings. Hurt was all I still felt, but the healing had slightly fixed that, “Feeling better?” A green skinned, tusked woman gripped my arm, prodding at my wrist. She wore light armor with robes over it. An orcish apothecary.
“A bit,” I groaned and gripped my head, “My body feels better but…” The mental and spiritual feeling took its toll and still wracked me.
A few hired guards milled about in their armor. Some of them glanced my way but went about their business. Another man in a black trench coat and a matching trilby kneeled by my side, “You’re out of mana, slick,” He said.
I peered at him. His face was pretty, but carried a wisdom that looked beyond his years. His piercing emerald eyes were kind, his skin was pale, and his long pointed ears seemed to twitch with the smallest of sounds around us. Fuzzy as my head was, I recognized him, “But I’ve never casted a spell in my life, Peter,” I whined.
“You have the symptoms anyways,” He spoke like a 1920’s detective, the kind you’d see in films. It was fitting, the ageless elf had been a detective in the old world too. Pre Cracking stuff, “Hey, get this guy some grub, would ya, sweetheart?” 
	“Oh, of course,” The woman’s gentle tone put me a little at ease.
	“Peter…” I wheezed, “What happened?”
	“I don’t know, slick,” Guilt dripped from my mentor’s voice, “I never should have sent you here. It was supposed to be a milk run, and I knew how in tune you were with these cracked realms… Should’ve been an in and out, but you’ve been missing for three days. Thankfully these guys found your badge and gave the department a call.”
“Three… days?”
Peter perked up, his long ears twitching as he looked down at my hand, “What’s going on here, slick?” He grabbed my arm, staring down at my hand, “Mana is running through your arms for the first time in your life. The crackling of electricity is coming from you, huh?”
“Here,” The orc woman handed me a small bundle, “I hope you like jerky.”
“It’ll help. Come on, slick,” Peter helped me up, “I’ve sent someone to take your truck home. I’ve gotta get ya back to the station, Captain Howder is goin' to wanna speak to ya.”
I nodded. Generally I’d dread this chat, but I was more than happy to be seeing the Captain, “Sure,” I limped after the detective and gladly got into the passenger seat of his car. I tried to eat while sitting shotgun in the police cruiser, but I found myself dozing off again. Eating hardtack and jerky was just a little too much work for me. We drove through the countryside and away from the cracked zone. Things were slowly coming back to me, but I still couldn’t recall what or who had done this to me. I was just glad to be alive. Still cold, but alive.

	Peter pulled the cruiser into a parking lot across the street from the station. While the D.H.I.F was never a real police force, we still felt like one. Stations, officers, detectives… the whole nine yards. I pocketed the last of my food and limped inside, still shivering softly. 
	The sounds of the station felt welcoming. Phone calls, tapping on keyboards, chatter, cleaning of armor and weapons, and the preparing of spells. Humans, orcs, dwarves, and even a few elves and halflings filled out the staff. Bright lights illuminated the cubicles, desks, and old computers that everyone finger typed on. Along the walls were a few offices and in the back were some holding cells for the riff-raff we brought in waiting for transfer or holdovers if the real cops had no room for drunk and disorderlies. The whole office seemed to pause as I entered, it was like a feeling of relief had washed over everyone as they saw me up and alive. A few people said hello, but they knew better than to hold me up. I was brought into the Captain’s office.
	“Howder? He really is alive and walking. Not well, maybe, but he’s up!” Peter joked with a little chuckle and a smile on his face. He pulled his hat off to reveal his long, golden blonde hair that was pulled back into a ponytail. When I entered, Peter shut the door behind me, indicating the privacy our conversation needed.
	“Feeling well, officer Hall?” The captain asked as he turned from the window he had been gazing out. Sunlight streamed in, basking his brass scales in glimmering sunlight. The Captain was dragon blooded, or a half-dragon, or a walking lizard, however you wanted to call him. He certainly looked like an upright walking lizard with frills along the back of his head. His large body was dressed in a police blue button up and navy blue slacks. His face was as hard to read as ever, but I was still relieved to see him.
	I shrugged at his question, “I feel like death. But I guess I’m happy to still be alive.”
	“The guards told me he stumbled into their checkpoint. That’s when they called us and one of their apothecaries. We arrived at about the same time,” Peter explained, “The kid made it out of the sundered lands with no special tools, all on his own, I take it.”
“Impressive. Glad to have you back, Hall,” The Captain nodded, His voice was rough like sandpaper and his golden eyes scanned over me, but they never betrayed his thoughts, “Now, can you recall anything? You look like you have been stabbed through.” 
	I shook my head, “Not a memory of it. I just woke up and knew I had to leave. I used rocks to figure out where not to walk.”
	“Resourceful,” The Captain nodded, “Shame we know not who did this. Take the rest of the week off. Get some rest. It's no wonder you feel like death, you look like death… and… smell like…” He peered at me as he trailed off.
	“I think you can sense it too,” Peter assumed, “Something changed in him. I feel like he’s got a bit of magic in there now. We’ll investigate it a little more when you return. I’ll drive you home, slick.”
	I was stunned by their short talk about some kind of power I may have, but I just nodded to my mentor and let him shepard me back to his cruiser. I buckled in and tried to finish eating.

	“Get yourself some mana wine, slick. Oh and uh, order in, you're not good to drive,” Was the last thing Peter told me as I was let off at my little apartment. I nodded again and left. Like he had said, my truck had been dropped off. An old, brown pickup truck that could barely hit fifty miles an hour on the road. I pat myself down, unable to find my keys. I looked to my truck, wondering where my keys were. I pulled the unlocked door open and peered in. My eyes felt strange, like they themself were wavering and moving on their own. My vision was seemingly forcefully pulled to the floor. There was a small lump under the rubber mat. As I lifted it, I found my keys wreathed in a small glow. I slammed my eyes shut and grabbed them, ignoring the odd feeling. I could smell ozone, like when lightning strikes. I shivered, the horrible cold returned and I quickly made for my apartment. 

	Now I sit here. I find myself shivering, even while wrapped in blankets and after a hot shower. I threw the bloody clothes away and washed the grime from my body. I can feel something in me. Is it that power that the Captain and Peter mentioned? It’s like when I touched the electric fence at my grandparent’s farm, but this felt somewhat good. Different, but it offers me a bit of warmth. 
	I need to sleep. I need to feel better and get back to work. Whatever happened to me, whoever did this is still out there.
	Maybe they're back in those sundered lands. Maybe I can still find them and figure this out.  

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