Hello once again! Up until now, I’ve only really posted scenarios and oneshots. But this time, we’ve got something more special: the start of a new series! Being honest, I dunno if I got the strength to do something like this, but we’ll figure it out as we go along!
In this chapter, we meet our protagonist and get a glimpse of the lives of the Ravenna survivors.
Matteo rushed down the tunnel, frantically trying to escape the monsters giving chase. They were catching up, drawing ever closer as his legs slowly gave out. One trip was enough to seal his fate, the beasts coming upon him like a pack of ravenous wolves. This was it, they had gotten him. They were going to rip him to pieces like they had done to all the others. “No… N-NO! AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!”
Matteo shot up in his bed, clutching his chest as his eyes darted around his room. He was here, he was fine, he hadn’t been ripped apart by a hungry Atlantean. “Phew…” Matteo wiped the sweat off his forehead as he stood up, moving to grab his clothes. They were dirty and caked with dust, but they were the only ones he had. He hadn’t been lucky enough to grab some from the other scavengers when they returned from Rubica.
Upon getting dressed. Matteo left his little hole in the wall and went down the dimly lit tunnel, stopping once he arrived at a familiar door. “Michael? You up yet?” He asked, knocking three times as he heard the groaning of his friend rising from his slumber. Michael was never an early riser, even before the fall. ‘At least some things stay the same’ Matteo thought to himself as Michael opened up the door. “Couldn’t have given me five more minutes, could you?” He groggily remarked, rubbing his tired eyes.
“Sorry, my friend, but we both know how things are now. C’mon, let’s get to work.” Matteo chuckled as he and Michael went down the hall.
“Aren’t they doing day and night shifts now? Surely the night crew can pick up the slack.”
“They don’t have enough people on the night crew, and they likely won’t get more anytime soon.”
“What about the rescue ships? Haven’t they been bringing in more survivors?”
“They’ve been trying, but they say the whole southern half of the Bronze Sea’s crawling with those monsters. Only a few ships made it in last month.”
“Damn… at this rate we’ll be wiped out before we have the chance to take back Tiberia.”
“Like they’ll ever focus on Tiberia.”
“Hah! You got that one right!”
The two friends laughed as they entered a large open space, teeming with people going about their duties. Ensigns and legionaries patrolled in tight columns as merchants bartered with others for their admittedly shabby wares. A team of workers were digging a hole in the center of the space, laying the foundations for a well. Two more men hoisted a sign up via rope and hung it right near the main entrance to the outside, a sign that read “New Ravenna” in bold lettering.
“Hmm… Not going to lie, it has a certain appeal.” Michael remarked.
“Ugh… I don’t think I’m ever going to get used to that.” Matteo grimaced, once again made aware of his current situation. Four months. It had been four months since the survivors of Ravenna were forced into Mount Caesar. The Atlantean hordes descended upon the island like a roaring tidal wave, tearing everything in their path asunder. Tiberia, Rasna, and even mighty Rubica fell as the island was overrun by the beasts. Even King Calvus was struck down, gravely wounded as he was set upon by over twenty Atlanteans at once. It was only thanks to the intervention of General Julian that he was able to be dragged into the mountain.
“Well, better get used to it soon, my friend. I’ve a feeling we’ll be seeing that sign for a long, long time.” Michael replied as he and Matteo set off towards their workstations. Just about everyone in the mountain had a job to do. Whether it was cultivating mushrooms, guarding tunnels and entrances, or scavenging for valuable supplies on the surface, everyone pitched in as much as they could. Matteo and Michael had become part of the mining force, excavating the valuable bounty of ores under the mountain. Even after the invasion, the mines still provided a great amount of mineral wealth, enough to outfit both the remnants of Ravenna’s army and the scavenger teams with quality gear.
CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! Matteo’s pickaxe broke chunks of ore from the rock with every swing, piling into a tray beneath him as Michael came up with an empty tray. “Don’t over-exert yourself there. I’d rather not be the one dragging you out. Again.” Michael teased, taking the full tray of ores as he left the empty tray at Matteo’s feet. “Oh please, like you’re any better. I seem to distinctly recall having to carry you all the way back home after you practically worked yourself to death on that caravel. What were you even doing there?”
“I already said, I was helping to fix it!” Michael replied, “And it’s not like patching holes in a rowboat, caravels require a skilled hand. I wouldn’t expect someone with such poor knowledge of sailing vessels as yourself to understand.”
Matteo merely rolled his eyes, watching Michael leave with the ore tray. Michael had been a part of a merchant’s caravel crew before the invasion, performing general labor as they traveled from place to place. After fleeing into the mountain, he tried to join up with the ships saving refugees around the Bronze Sea, but was denied on the grounds that only skilled warriors would be allowed to make those long, treacherous voyages.
“Right. Spending days at a time at sea on a rickety wooden tub sure does sound like the life.” Matteo sarcastically replied, chuckling as he kept swinging at the ore. Prior to the invasion, Matteo had heard rumors of the mines being a hellish place where the worst of Ravenna’s criminals were sent to work until they died of starvation or exhaustion. The guards stationed there were said to be just as bad as the criminals, taking sadistic pleasure in beating those poor souls as they labored under constant watch.
“Alright, break time!” A gruff voice called out, the mine overseer walking down Matteo’s tunnel. “Get your food everyone, you’ll need the energy! Don’t wanna hear any of you passing out.” Matteo laid his pick down and went to go receive his food, thankful that the mines’ new managers didn’t live up to the rumor.
After the break, Matteo went back to mining until his shift had reached its end, returning his gear as he caught back up with Michael, heading with him to the mountain’s resident tavern. “Think Olaf has anything new?” Michael wondered, Matteo shrugging his arms, “Most likely, but if I know Olaf, anything he makes is likely going to kill you.” A refugee from Redwake, Olaf Gurrnisson was a maker of far stronger brews than what the denizens of Ravenna were used to. Regardless, a decent drink was something that Ravenneans were thankful they didn’t have to give up in their struggle for survival.
Matteo and Michael chatted as they reached Olaf’s makeshift tavern, the Hole in the Wall. A quaint place, the Hole was frequented by many of the laborers and soldiers under Mount Caesar, coming to drown their sorrows in some of Olaf’s mushroom beer. “Ah, welcome back!” Olaf greeted the pair as they entered, Matteo and Michael sitting down at the bar, “What can I do for you two gentleman tonight?”
“Just the usual, please.” Michael replied, Olaf leaving to fetch their drinks. Matteo wasn’t one for taverns, but he did see the appeal of bringing people together, especially in treacherous times like these. He, Michael and Olaf bit the rag for a while about current events and the like, Olaf having become something of a reporter regarding surface expeditions. Since the Agora stopped being published, word of mouth was the only way things got around anymore. The duo stayed their
“Well, I think it’s time I leave. See you tomorrow, Matteo?” Michael got up from his seat, leaving a chunk of refined ore behind as payment. With the collapse of the Bronze Sea’s economy, those pieces of metal quickly became part of the new system of payment. “Yeah… you know where to find me. See you then, Michael.” Matteo waved goodbye as Michael left the empty tavern, now only occupied by Matteo and Olaf “So… you gonna follow him or what?”
“Later. I… I just need another drink.” Matteo replied, a mixture of sorrow and tiredness setting in as he set down another metal chunk on the counter.
“Alright, just take it easy, ya hear? I don’t wanna be dragging you out of here in the morning.” Olaf poured Matteo another mushroom beer as he went to the back room, leaving the young man alone with his thoughts. Was this really how he’d be spending the rest of his life, hiding away underground as the monsters up above ran rampant over the ruins of his old home? Would he ever get the chance to see sunlight again? All these questions and more ran through his troubled mind as he downed his mushroom beer.
“You seem troubled, friend.” An unfamiliar voice remarked, its owner sitting down at the bar next to Matteo. “May I ask what’s got you so down?” Matteo’s ears perked up at the voice, but he didn’t have it in him to check who it was. “…It’s nothing.” Matteo forced out, chugging the last of his drink and slamming the glass down on the counter. “Nothing? Well, it seems to me like there’s a lot more going on than ‘nothing.’ But, I’m not one to pry. What kind of man would I be tormenting a poor soul for his secrets?”
Matteo gave a dry laugh at the irony, already feeling the alcohol doing its magic. He decided to humor the guy for a while, then he’d stumble home. “The hell are you doing here anyways? Bar’s practically closed.” He asked, wondering what business this guy could have coming in this late.
“I’m somewhat of a night owl, personally. Were I back in old Ravenna I’d be making merry out on the streets of Rubica and wooing the local ladies. But alas, I have to make do with… this.” Rubica? This guy must be one of those flouncy noble types, the kind that never worked a day in his life until the invasion happened. “Of course, my brother’s never been a fan of my habits, but he’s far too dour. After all, what kind of prince would I be if I didn’t go out and mingle with the common folk every once in a while?”
Wait… prince? Matteo’s eyes widened as he slowly turned his head, coming face to face with none other than th.
“W-What the hell?!”
And that’s the first chapter done! Got this one done waaaay quicker than I thought lmao. I hope y’all enjoyed the start of this little series, expect more to come in the future!