Chapter 3

Please note: I originally meant to put this up on friday, but failed due to tiredness and mismanaged time. Regardless, the final edit has been done and future updates are planned for no later than friday midnights. For now, enjoy!

April / 23 / 2025

Testing.
Good, this machine is still in working order. Ah, but excuse me, my dear reader, I momentarily became lost in the necessities of the moment. I cannot help but to worry, since I have not been able of doing much else since the events of two nights ago, which– I have only now realised– concern the same day I decided to start this log of mine. I must confess that, among the misfortunes that have befallen me, it does console me to have rescued this piece of work, small along with the means to continue its creation. Even if it is very small at present and the new environment I have been provided with for such a task is less than ideal, this pinch of good fortune has brought up a slight uplifting within me.
But I digress, as you will surely want to know what happened, the events I mention which have brought about such a change. Fear not, for I will get to that in due time. For now, let me try and maintain the telling of things in a sensible chronological order.
First of all, you need to know that the afternoon following the morning described in the first instalment of this manuscript went by without greater incident. After having returned to my dwelling, I took to storing the supplies I had gathered from the market (finding myself slightly worried while doing so, as I had seen they were the last I could procure from that particular source), fixed myself a small helping, contemplated the streets below for a few minutes, then took to writing that which I presume you have already read. Nothing of note happened until the advent of the evening, once the sun’s radiant sphere had already been concealed by the mountains.
Having completed the first chapter of the piece of work I had told myself I was meant to do, I had gained some peace of mind and was determined to spend the rest of the evening relaxing, trying to maintain my self-induced sleep cycle. Not long after this became clear in my mind, however, I felt something rushing in from the lookout– a particularly chill wind, the kind that is not often felt around this part of the world, at least not around this particular time of year. This inspired some disconcert in me, but not quite as much as what came through the lookout next. I heard a kind of muffled popping noise coming from somewhere below, and had all of two seconds to move out of the way of the projectile that came whizzing upwards through the air and found its way into the inside of my dwelling, where it crashed open and set the room ablaze.
I barely had any time to think as I ran for the exit door, then stopped, having remembered something, turned around, snatched the papers and typewriter which the flames had not yet reached, and darted for the stairs. When I was about halfway to the ground level, I stopped to catch my breath and think for a moment. I clearly remembered the use of that same incendiary weapon during the first Chaotic attack I witnessed, but I could not fathom why they would seek to aim it at my refuge. In the silence that had come to surroudn me since I stopped, I heard similar crashes in the distance, but I knew that regardless of whether they had chosen to attack that place at random or they were are that I was lodged there, I had no choice but to go somewhere else, for I knew that building would never be safe again.
Fearing for the integrity of my work so far, I left the typewriter and paper concealed in the shadows under a flight of stairs, then glanced the streets immediately outside the building. There was no sign of activity, but I could hear the crashing noises not too far away, and see smoke rising from places that had surely been lit up by the flames they brought with them. As much as I hated to admit it to myself, I knew the only real way to be safe then was to somehow find the Keepers, but even if I accepted that much, I had no idea where to look. I knew they had a base somewhere in the city, but in all my walks through and around it, I had never found out where it was. Still, I suspected that if the Chaotics had come to cause trouble in the city, the Keepers would surely turn up sooner or later to try and drive them out. Taking this more as a reassurance than anything else, I shyly made my way out onto the streets, trying to remain in the opposite direction of where the crashing noises were coming from.
The streetlights had stopped working long ago, so I had to use my own memory and sense of direction to navigate the darkened roads. Inconvenient as it may sound, I must say It gave me a slight sense of comfort to know that even if I were to run into the Chaotics, they would not be able to see me immediately. Even then, I had little to do other than wander around and await some sign of Keeper activity; as much as I feared them, the raiders were not shy about showing their position, with the constant crashing noises and flashes of light aiding me in stay away from them.
“Psst!”
I turned around with a start upon hearing what seemed to be someone trying to get my attention.
“You! Yes, you! Come here!”
Whoever it was, they spoke in a loud, toneless whisper, so I could not immediately recognise their voice.
“Who… who is it?” I coyly called out.
“You’re Martel, aren’t you?” I had started to recognise it as a woman’s voice. “It’s all right, I’m a Keeper!”
With a silent sense of relief, I slowly approached the one calling out to me.
“Where do we go?” I said.
“Follow!” She continued to whisper.
I obliged, moving as fast as I could without making too much noise. What little moonlight came through the clouded sky allowed me to see that the figure was indeed a woman’s. I was enthralled by the relief that having been found brought to me, so much that I did not notice that the crashing noises had stopped.
After a bit of running, she stopped in the middle of an intersection.
“Where to now?” I said.
She let out a sharp whistle.
I was about to protest, but the crashes that came from all around us just then made that unnecessary. The streets around us having been set ablaze, I could get a better view of who it was I had been following.
“You…” I said. “You’re…”
“Long time no see, Martel. Disappointing, if I do say so myself.” Now the voice. Her identity was unmistakable.
An entourage of brutish-looking people came out from between the shadows as she was talking. Chaotics, no doubt. The woman turned around and faced me.
“So it is you.”
“Always a pleasure, Martel.”
“Sandra. Why have you come all the way out here?”
“I’ve been itching to meet you again, Martel. We know you’re an interesting person, and we can value that…”
“Sandra, I’ve told you many times before–”
“Oh but consider, Martel. Just take one moment to consider. Look around you. You can choose to either take this last chance to accept our generous proposal, or submit to us as we take you to a world of pain and tortures you could not begin to imagine.”
The deceitful woman was smiling all the while as she delivered this threat.
“I, well, know nothing I can say will influence your decision,” she chuckled, “but I still wish to know what it is, and take it as final. So, Martel, what’s it gonna be?”
I looked around myself. What she had said was very true; if I did not accept her ludicrous proposal, which would destroy in me everything I knew I was, her goons would easily be able to subdue me, and I dread to think of anything that would happen next. Still, I have always been very bad at lying, let alone bluffing, so I knew I had virtually no choice in the matter. My wits running thin, I found myself unable to repress my voice, and I shouted.
“I’d rather lose my head than myself!”
“That can be arranged, if you’d like.” Sandra’s tone lost all semblance of amusement. “Grab him.”
I closed my eyes as I knew my fate would momentarily descend upon me. I could hear the savage Chaotics give a furious cry as they lunged themselves unto me, no doubt eager to capture the one who had denied them so many times. The moments I spent waiting for that ultimate resolution seemed like an entire æon, but it began to feel strange when the cries not only went on for much longer than I expected, but I noticed that some of them were decidedly different from the ones I had heard at first.
“Destroy them, you fools!”
When I heard Sandra shouting this, I knew something had gone wrong (or rather, miraculously right) and I opened my eyes to witness the ones who had previously surrounded me with a menacing demeanour engaged in battle with another group of similar volume.
“Martel! Over here!” Qar’s voice, the Keeper girl from the market.
I ran to where the voice had beckoned me to, discovering an opening in between the clashing. Fleeing that lit-up circle of conflict, I saw that Qar was standing beside me, suddenly tugging my arm. Obliging, we ran to a street not too far from where the fight was taking place, and she stopped, leaning down, trying to find something on the ground. Due to the lack of light, I could not tell right away, but later discovered it was a manhole of sorts. Once her touch discovered it, she knocked on it with a peculiar pattern, following which it slid open to receive her and me.
Once we’d jumped down through the hole, I saw that it led into a subterranean tunnel, which seemed to descend steadily further as it went on. I tried to question Qar about the tunnel’s nature, but she pleaded for me to stay quiet until we were far enough from the surface. Not wanting to upset things, I decided to comply. After about 10 minutes of walking at an easy pace, we reached a wall upon which there was a large iron door.
“Now what?” I finally demanded.
“Now,” said Qar, “it’s your last chance to decide.”
Qar knocked on the door the same way she had knocked on the manhole. Before long, someone came to answer it. It was the same man who had dissuaded her earlier that day, when we were at the market.
“So, he’s here,” he said upon seeing me. “Have you decided, Martel?”
“Have I decided what?” I asked. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
“I thought it’d become absolutely clear to you once you’d heard the Chaotics’ ultimatum.”
“What? How do you even know about that?”
“We anticipated it would happen sooner or later. I’m afraid this is all about you, Martel.”
“How can it be all about me? I don’t even know what’s going on!”
“It’s time for you to choose a side, Martel. The Chaotics, or at least their leaders, are nowhere half as thick as they seem; they know about your potential, and they’d hate it if you decided to help us, so they’ve determined that if you don’t help them instead, they can’t allow you to stay alive.”
“You seem to bear some of that thickness yourself! Have you forgotten that we’re all immortal now?”
“Yes, that’s what I’m afraid of.” The man paused. “It seems they’ve found a way. One of our scouts, Galven, has lost a partner to them.”
“Well, isn’t that just fantastic…” I paused, suddenly finding myself exasperated. “But all that means is that I need to go somewhere else, somewhere they won’t find me.”
“Do you not know of the Noisemakers, Martel?” asked Qar.
” The… Noisemakers? I thought they were just a rumour…”
“I’m afraid not,” added the man. “If you try going somewhere else, they’ll find you sooner or later. No, I’m afraid the only thing left for you to do is to stay here with us.”
I sighed, still in resignation. “Does this mean I have to become one of you?”
“By all means.”
I paused again, thinking to myself for a moment.
“If I do this..” I said slowly, hesitantly. “Will it be possible for me to get some privacy, at least?”
“If you so wish, as long as you do not completely alienate yourself from what we may ask.”
I was still conflicted over all this. I knew that what they were saying was true, but I was still finding it difficult to accept that I was about to join the Keepers. Still, I didn’t even bother considering any other means of escape, since I knew it would be foolhardy to ignore the true extent of the Chaotics’ reach, which I knew was as real as they made it out to be. I’d already heard of the Noisemakers– small fractions of Chaotic forces tasked with spreading their commanders’ will across the land– but I had tried not to concern myself with them, thinking it as something that wouldn’t affect me. Now that it was all too real, what choice did I have?
“I accept, then,” I finally said.
“I’m glad to hear it,” said the man. “Come, we’ll show you where you’ll be able to stay.”
Following this, Qar and the man fully opened the iron doors, revealing the way into the Keepers’ lair.

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About ikerrivercast

Iker Rivercast is a natural born loner with a knack for writing and programming. When he's not sleeping or otherwise putting off being productive, you'll likely find him trying something new with his written work. View all posts by ikerrivercast

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