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The Resurfacing has been accomplished with hardly a dent to the army. The Desert Arachni were admittedly reluctant to face defeat, and some good men had been lost to the gracious cause. Their deaths were not in vain, however. The breach into the ancient surface had been successful, despite the sacrifice of some beautiful ruins. When witnessing such destruction had reminded me of the previous memories of attending expeditions with my old crew mates, and how we planned months to reach here. Since the ravenous betrayals and wars held on each other, I could no longer trust those I choose to accompany, but rather those that I bring. It was what our community of honest, hard-working people originated from. Wherever there rotting carcasses are in the ancient desert tundra no longer concerns me, but the destruction of these desolate ruins would hopefully make my mind believe to be a sign of conclusion.
However, I must focus on the present. During the breaching I noticed the Atlas escaping. We are able to leave with makeshift aero-vessels that are ready for travel, so it was not a loss. Those two are an intelligent duo, to which something I never denied to begin with. Despite their narrow escape, I suspect that they may return to interfere with my plans. Well, it does not matter. They have missed one thing that would place the entire operation at full speed. To not spoil much, I will speak about this: as an archaeologist, it is our jobs to excavate and research for the remnants of the old period beneath us. Things from our pasts are underneath our own noses...
When it became clear that the target of the initial invasion was to be Old Krystalris, we put our plan into action. We needed to move ahead of the attack--we had no interest in getting smashed by 900 pound stalactites and boulders as the ceiling caved in, and we had to find a way to warn the surface world of the danger posed by this insane dictator with an army of subterranean zealots armed with heavy duty mining equipment.
Donning her makeshift Marleybone disguise, Persephone marched us right into the heavily secured Presidential Elevator and we rode it to the surface. It was evening there, and we were greeted by a small expeditionary force. She demanded we be taken to the Atlas immediately, and once there ordered our security detail to wait on the ground while we boarded the ship.
The Captain welcomed us on board, but continued to act with the same disattachment we'd been seeing these past few months. She was of course unaware of our adventure and the startling nature of Dr. Marleybone's true identity, but now was not the time to bring her up to speed. Instead, we pulled up anchor and slowly drifted aloft...
...just in time to see the invasion begin in full force. An enormous sinkhole had opened up beneath the ruined city, and we watched the ancient masonry of its towers collapse in a roiling sea of sand, the massive drill tips of the Undermen poking up through the tumult even as the buildings fell.
But there was more. As the gaping hole in the desert grew, a swarm of massive spiders, each one the size of a tank and ridden by wild spider cavalry men, scrambled to the surface. To our astonishment, they began to attack the Undermen, beheading them with venomous pincers, while their riders, secured to the giant arachnids by spider-silk harnesses, stabbed at the troglodyte invaders with their enormous pikes.
"They must have disturbed a nest when they drilled through," Persephone surmised.
The carnage was horrific. While the spider riders were vicious, the Undermen were tough from years of cave dwelling, and we saw more than one spider shut down with a pick axe in its head. Not to mention the armored drilling machines. Rather than wait to see who won, we headed north at full steam, so happy to be in the air once again.
Well, out of all the time while I was recovering, this was the plan you managed to strike up? A poor disguise of myself? I am questioning myself on whether to be flattered or offended. Any who, I tried to bring explanation into your heads, but only received denial of my honesty. Fine, you have left me no choice. My Generals, cruel to the people as they may be, are only bringing this society into future success. After all, you cannot get wealth without hardship, right?
You only know the iceberg of my operations, for the people to be free of their cavernous prisons and to reclaim the surface once more. The New Krystalrians will receive their riches and success as promised (I may be a dictator, but I am honest in deals). The first targets would be to reclaim their old homes of Old Krystalris, and then to promising locations throughout the globe. To claim territories and cities, raise and fall empires, for the future of our people, and for another reason. I have kept another objective in my mind for some time now, but that would be the second phase. Jeez, I just realized I was ranting my monologue. However for know, have a cozy time in The Shadow's Abyss. I'll use the Atlas as the leading head of the ariel invasion once the tunnels are dug. I'm sure the Captain won't mind. Farewell.
The citizens of New Krystalris have spent the last few weeks preparing their invasion force. Ranks and ranks of mining machines fill the massive cavern as far as the eye can see, while the New Krstalrians sharpen their picks and pack their dynamite.
We've seen little of Marleybone since the rousing "Return to Power" speech, but we have seen a lot of Generals. We see General Crumble, Commander of the Land and Earth forces, General Krick, Commander of the Aquifer Forces, and General Mayhem, Commander of Propaganda. Together, they're worked the workers into a frenzy, promising them "all the riches of the surface" when they "bring down the sky" -- which as far as Persephone and I can tell is their way of saying "drill so many holes in the roof that it caves in." Meanwhile, the word is that Marleybone is "recovering" in a "secret location."
The one thing we don't know is their target. The New Krystalrians know the Earth's subterranean passages as well as we know the surface, and I am sure they could easily draw their forces up under any one of the surface's greatest cities--Paris, Saint Petersburg, Cincinnati...
What can we do about it? Persephone has a plan. Using a wig, some candle wax, and various pigments extracted from the soil, she was able to transform herself into a reasonable facsimile of Marylebone. She wouldn't pass close inspection, but, if we're able to find high ground--say, on a balcony--and the lighting is just right, and we have access to a crackly and distorted sound system, we may be able to convince the people that she IS Marleybone, and denounce the invasion, and at throw at least some dissension into the populace.
That is, so long as we don't run into the REAL Marleybone.
Fine...I knew I could not keep this façade any longer. I am not just an archaeologist awed by ancient mysteries and relics. I am a king of these people, but NOT a dictator! Most of the tale I have said was indeed true. However, I had not mentioned what of my colleagues on that same expedition. They, one intellectually minded people, have grow to turned corrupted by the wealth of the gems underneath and the shiny relics at the surface. The arguments never ended, up until they had enough. They willingly controlled their "shares" of the tribes that were surviving below, before New Krystalris. They were making armies for the purpose to have at each others throats for the sake of wealth. I had to step in and rally the people to not only grow financially, but to rebel against them.
It took a couple years to put reality through my twisted colleagues with sheer force, but only lasted with bloodshed of the casualties. The scar was from one of our many battles, and I hid it with make-up to not stand out.We managed to drive them back to the surface and to stay up there, as we were safe down there. I am still not sure if they and their willed-bent tribes are wandering the deserts and still fighting each other, but I had the role the let these people thrive. The people of New Krystalris became overjoyed and worshipped me ever since. But I have seen the betrayal of who were once my friends, and from some of the actions and sacrifices I made have made me questioned my own purity. THAT was the real reason why I left.
MARLEYBONE! MARLEYBONE! MARLEYBONE!
The amphitheater was packed. The crowd was anxious, shouting the name over and over, waving signs and flags. We managed to rush the stage and get within a few rows of the podium.
There were endless welcomes and thank-yous from the all the union leaders--everybody trying to get a piece of the action. Eventually the chanting of the crowd grew too loud for any further introduction, and the lights dimmed...
...and there was Marleybone, on stage, under the spotlight. Well it was almost our Professor Squirrellybones, but not quite. A twin? Then this one had lead a far harsher life--worried skin, a stern expression... and a scar running down over the left eye, starting at the forehead and ending at the chin.
The crowd went wild.
It was no surprise that they discovered the truth. I am happy to hear that Melinda and Persephone are safe (looks like I don't need back-up, after all), they appear to have found the city Melinda refers to as "New Krystalris". And I am no dictator! Back in my archeological expedition days, a group of fellow explorers and I came here and discovered the civilization underground. It appears that long ago they decided to live underneath to avoid the environmental hazards, abandoning the surface. Of course when we found them, they weren't this...modernized, I should say. Not to be humble, but connections with other outside businesses sort of boosted their income. Helping them advance made the people want me to be their "king", despite their last one died many decades ago when they lived at the surface. I didn't want to be a king or dictator, sounded like a lot of work, and thought the people would become independent once they progress further with the crystal trade. So I left to continue what I did, but I see that they were trying to make me return back there, trying to convince me with their hard labor and praise. It explains the message in the code and the rods. Due to this good information, perhaps I need to get to New Krystalris so we can depart this place as a whole crew.
Okay so you want to know the second weirdest thing about New Krystalris? It’s how nobody gives you a second look.
I call it “New Krystalris“ because it looks just like the old deserted ruins of Krystalris that I left in the mining machine, except it’s full of people. Packed! Everybody bustling this way and that, working hard at the glowing crystal mining business, selling picks and shovels and street food with tentacles. The mines are crazy with the crystals, and everybody’s focused on digging them out, pushing wheelbarrows around, “mining” machines popping in and out of existence here and there...
The best thing about New Krystalris was that it didn’t take me long time find Persephone! She’d already had time to learn her way around, so she’s totally been taking care of me.
She explained that the main thing that’s going down is that there’s just ONE buyer for the whole crystal trade. It’s like the only company, but it’s also like the government, and a dictatorship...
Because the number one weirdest thing about New Krystalris? The giant posters all around town with the face of this dictator on them? It’s a VERY familiar face, and they’ve all got one word in huge font printed at the bottom:
Last night a roaring sound awoke from my slumber, and looking through the window I saw a large cloud of dust going further into the distance. Finding Melinda's note is saddening indeed. Honestly, I began to feel as it was my fault for all this. I mean this crew aren't treasure hunters, but meant for delivering unique cargo. Now that Persephone and Melinda are gone, I am unsure what to do now. Captain Trix has been locked in the captain's quarters for a long while now, remaining unresponsive. My mind is blank now. The only thing I can do is leave a special item behind in Krystalris: a communication device signaling people in a large radius. In case our crew members need to return, they can receive the signal to reach the device, and reaching it would communicate with Atlas. A neat airship tool in case of being stranded. It can also be used if we leave, but I am not sure. It's all the Captain's decision if responsive. Until then, I managed to be connected with some old friends to send airships for the search, as well as delivering provisions and supplies. They will come soon, but until then, I just hope those two are alright.
Awoke last night to the sound of angels and rainbows streaming through the porthole. I swung out of my bunk, raced to the hatch, dropped the rope ladder and climbed down as fast as I could.
We'd stayed moored outside of Krystalris on the off chance Persephone would return. I scrambled over the dunes to the place the odd mining machine had been parked and raced up to it. The dust was still settling and the engines were dying down.
But there was no Persephone. In the driver's seat was nothing but a dark stain. Perhaps she'd spilled a latte.
I've felt responsible ever since Persephone left. Not that it was my job to give orders, but couldn't I have done more to stop her?
There's little left for me here. I've realized she was the main thing that kept me going.
Which is why, when you read this, I will be gone. I'm getting in the mining machine and seeing where it takes me. Looks like if I press this big red button....