A footprint in history. Those lucky enough to do so often leave only that, a footprint. A footprint in a path of countless others, immortalized for a moment before fading for eternity. Yet every now and again, someone–or multiple someones–happen to come along at just the right moment, and are able to leave more than a footprint, a permanent scar in the path of history, changing the course of that path, and the world, forever…
Chapter One: Island
The kingdom of Lycria shone brightly below the scattered clouds, the sunlight–refracted in a vast spectrum of colors–bouncing off the glimmering surfaces of Lycria’s buildings. The year was unknown. Long forgotten, in fact, though the citizens of Lycria did not worry about the abandoned system of telling time. Nothing had happened in Lycria that was so momentous the exact date of its occurrence was in need of recording. Not until the day Below World was discovered, anyway.
The days in Lycria were all the same. Sunny and fiercely hot in the morning, sunny in the afternoon, and sunny in the evening. This was the year-long weather of Lycria, spare a scant sprinkle of rain from the few clouds that hung overhead. It was often said on the few days it did rain over the kingdom, something extraordinary was brewing in the sky, something worth writing down. Yet on this most ordinary of days, the most unusual of discoveries was made. Though not in the sky, as the myth claimed, but underground.
That fateful day, the sun hung in an opal sky, its fierce rays ripping through the delicate clouds and beating mercilessly down upon the waking kingdom. There had been a breeze that day, a welcome respite from the scalding heat of the morning. The inhabitants of Lycria were just starting to stir and prepare themselves for another long day.
Had you or I visited Lycria on this particular day–or any other day–our hearts might just about have ceased to beat. Lycria, as it was then, was much like the world we know. Work buildings stood tall and proud, surrounded by homes and parks. Clean-swept streets wove between structures, and different cultures were rich in everything. The biggest difference from our world were the inhabitants. Our cities are largely inhabited by one species: humans (save for bothersome insects, and the occasional stray animal). Short, tall, fat, thin, dark, light, colorful, male, female, old, young, but all undeniably human.
Because of the heat, in Lycria, it was common to encounter beings that were barely human. Homo sapiens, with our delicate skin and feeble bodies, could not have survived in such a harsh climate. But Lycria was inhabited by those who could. Extra limbs, multiple hearts, mutants, scales, and tough, leathery skin were common traits in Lycria. So you see, had any of us come across one of these creatures, perhaps one with multiple arms and a body covered with sticky scales, our frail human hearts might have just given out from the shock of it all.
Not to say that there were no humans. There were. Humans were just no longer as we know them. More on that later, however. As I was saying, it was an ordinary day in Lycria: scorching and downright terrible. Grudgingly admitting to herself that it would be better to remain within the cool confinements of her house, Iriole Kimburke had expected to do nothing more than tidy up a bit from the small gathering she had hosted the previous day. She had certainly not counted on getting an urgent message from her cousin only mere hours after light had started to bleed into the sky…