Himmel Empire. Chilyoja Waypoint.
As the time drew ever closer to midnight, the hooting of owls and howling of coyotes dominated the peaceful yet eerie woods. Animals of the night, which were hidden in their homes during daylight, roamed the freely through the forest. Going about their nightly routine, predators searched for food while prey did their best to avoid becoming dinner. But amidst the thicket of trees, lay a patch of cleared out land that was unnatural for such an area. Oddly enough, creatures who moved unhindered in the woods avoided this patch of land.
In the middle of the cleared-out fields, there stood a small town. An array of buildings, from small huts to massive brick constructions were littered across the city. Even though the sky had turned pitch-black, the town still remained well-lit through the help of numerous lanterns illuminating the streets.
Although the town was well-lit, there was little to no sign of human interactions on the streets. Homes had long turned off all their lights for their inhabitants to get some shut-eye. And the fact that they could sleep comfortably and safely while living in a jungle, filled with deadly animals, was due to the impeccable security the town possess.
Defence walls made of solid rock, standing over five metres tall and three metres thick, encircled the town, preventing any sort of creature from ever entering. Many beasts had attempted to scale the wall for the scrumptious feast that awaited them in the citadel, but unfortunately, if they somehow managed to breach the walls, there was a horde of town guards itching to slay them in their tracks.
As part of the initiative to deliver military supplies to Aldrich’s Keep more quickly, Chilyoja Waypoint was constructed. A substantial portion citizens who took up residence in the waypoint were families of soldiers stationed at Aldrich’s Keep. Furthermore, Chilyoja Waypoint serves as a resting spot for supply caravans. Hence, the Himmel Empire invested quite a bit of money in enhancing its security infrastructure and ensuring that the waypoint remains a safe haven.
The streets in the inner town were void of human life, but the gates were a different story. Chilyoja Waypoint prided itself for its tight security. And part of what made the town safe were the constables who worked round the clock. From manning the guard posts to patrolling the town, the constables in Chilyoja Waypoint are professionally trained to protect their citizens. All the four gates were heavily guarded, and even with midnight drawing closer, there were at least twenty highly trained constables stationed at each entrance.
“Sir! There’s a convoy of aether cars driving straight towards us!”
A constable, who was keeping watch atop the eastern watchtower, ran down and reported his sighting to a ruddy and chubby man, who was reclined comfortably on his chair. With a book in hand, the man slowly got up from his chair, jiggling his bulging stomach in the process.
“A convoy of aether cars you say… Did you see their flag?”
Stretching his plump arms, the man yawned as he asked for further details.
“No, sir! It was too dark to see anything.”
“Bloody useless! Then could you see what colour were the cars?”
“Ermmm… I think it was red?”
“Do you think, or do you know?!”
“I’m sorry, sir! The cars were red, sir!”
“God damn it… They don’t pay me enough to deal with crap like you. Move aside, greenhorn! Tell Aldea to raise the gates…”
“Sir! Is it a good idea to open the gates for a convoy that we haven’t confirmed the identity of?”
“That’s why I called you useless recruit! If you had half the brain, you should be able to guess who the convoy belongs to! Aether cars are expensive vehicles, and no average joe can afford them. With them coming in the middle of the night means that they must have a gold visa that allows them to bypass queues and enter the town outside of trading times. Adding to the fact that they dye their cars red, there’s only one clan the convoy could possibly belong to.”
“The Frie Clan?”
“That’s right you dumbass! So, are you going to leave or do you want me to kick you out myself?”
“Sorry, sir! I’ll inform senior Aldea to raise the gates!”
“Damn it… The new hires sure are dimwits…”
Watching the recruit constable stumbling on his on foot as he scurried away, the plump man rubbed his meaty forehead in frustration.
“Is it just me, or are the quality of recruits dropping fast…”
Slapping his book shut, the bulky man climbed out from his guardpost and made his way to the massive steel gates that protected the waypoint from invaders.
“Shin, wake up… Hey, Shin… Shin!!!”
“Woah! What… What happened?”
After facing possible death, Shin felt exhausted. He already had a long day and adding to the fact that the shaking of the aether car resembled the rocking of a cradle, the fatigued Shin decided to get some sleep. But even before he entered a state of deep sleep, the youthful voice of Junius jerked him into reality.
“How’s your nap?”
“You woke me up to ask me that?! Damn it, I’m going back to sleep!”
“Hey, hey! Don’t do that! Look, we’ve arrived.”
Pointing out the window, Junius prompted Shin to have a look. As he was rudely awoken from his beauty sleep, the irritated black-haired boy rubbed off the discharge from his eyes and poked his head out of the window. Instantaneously, his sleepiness waned as an imposing, towering white wall came into view. The wall was as plain as could be but Shin could tell that the barrier had seen its fair share of hardships. The white paint had slowly eroded away as ferns grew at the base of the walls.
Once the convoy was less than ten metres away from the gate, the steel bars that blocked any entry into the town were raised gradually. From inside the city, Shin could see a lone plump figure waiting peacefully for the row of aether cars.
Once the gates were fully raised, the Instructor got out of the vehicle and strode forward to greet the chunky man.
“Hoho, now that’s a rare face! Lou, were you relegated to become a mere escort?”
Evidently, the man recognised the instructor and teased him while giving a greeting.
“Of course not. I see you’re still as fat as ever, Lewis. What happened to never drinking booze again?”
“Haha, I broke that promise within the week that I made it!”
“How unoriginal of you…”
“Shut up! I’m fine with the way I look!”
“Tell that to yourself in the mirror.”
“Yeah, yeah. So, what brings you here at this ungodly hour?”
“I would have made it here earlier, but there were some unforeseen circumstances…”
Lewis’ fats jiggled once more as he tilted his head quizzically.
“We met the black masks…”
Hearing the Instructor’s words, Lewis’ face turned sombre.
“Tell me more…”
“Let me settle down my caravan first. We’ve captured five Dalits, and I hope to hand them over to you.”
“Of course, leave it to me. You know where to find me…”
After the exchange, Lewis made way for the Instructor and the Frie convoy to enter Chilyoja Waypoint, the two orphan’s new home.