Mulden’s waterfront was beautiful, a source of pride for the locals. Tall buildings overlooked the bay, each one a different color and design. Vibrant smatterings of red, yellow, and blue, even designs like plaid and stripes, created a skyline unlike any other in the world.
Viab’Xexos was the southernmost continent of Nea’K’Oxa, covered in almost constant snow, but the temperature was usually quite mild compared to the northern pole. Despite the mild weather, it was still too cold to grow crops, so the Viab’Xexos people had developed massive greenhouses where the sun helped create an artificial environment. They were set up outside the city walls, keeping the city flush with food despite the cold temperatures.
Viab’Xexos’s greenhouses were famous. They employed a system used nowhere else, and many outsiders disputed their existence, finding the idea of a farm inside a building preposterous. Not only was it possible, in many cases it was more effective than growing in a standard field. The controlled climate and protection from critters made the greenhouses so productive that they could feed the entire continent, if needed.
Mulden’s farmers’ worked in the greenhouses because it’s what they loved to do; it was their passion. Everyone who lived in Viab’Xexos did so because it was where they wanted to be. It was a country of peace and prosperity, separated from the rest of the world by the Tauran Ocean, arguably the most dangerous waterway in Nea’K’Oxa.
Helyan noticed none of this as he walked toward his father’s offices. The problem with one’s father being in charge of the country was Helyan never got a moment alone to talk with him without making an appointment. It was frustrating. He felt like he never saw his father anymore. He was always busy with one task or another. Helyan understood that what his father did was important and that he needed to be available for everyone, dedicating his time and effort to making the country an even better place to live. But what Helyan was trying to do was important too. Without him, these people would be dead in days.
Being the Lord of Viab’Xexos was a full-time job, as his father’s assistant, Tala, insisted on reminding Helyan.
Helyan understood busyness, but often it felt like that response was just a default dismissal. Visions of a pending invasion could really screw up a wellplanned schedule. They didn’t have time for anything like that.
“Good morning, Helyan! How’s your father doing?” It was the call of a passerby trying to be friendly, but all Helyan noticed was the person’s complete lack of awareness.
“The end is on us! We’re all going to die if we don’t smarten up and defend ourselves. The monsters are coming!”
“Yes, yes, of course. Have a good day, Helyan. Be sure to tell your old man I was asking about him.”
What’s wrong with everyone? They just ignore me! Don’t they understand that it’s them I’m looking out for?
There was only so much he could do if they weren’t willing to help themselves, but despite the jokes he knew they made behind his back, he still cared about these people. They were his friends and neighbors. He couldn’t let them
die without at least trying to help.
When Helyan walked into his father’s office, Tala was sitting at her desk across from the door. She looked up, and when she saw it was Helyan, she let out a deep sigh and set the paper she had been reading on the pile in front of her. “What’s the problem this time, Helyan? Let’s hear it.”
“An invasion, Tala. Please, I need to warn him. This is what everything has been building toward. I know it. The night sky was as bright as the sun, illuminating enough trained soldiers to kill us all. It’s starting, and if we don’t do something soon, the world as we know it will end in a sea of blood.”
She waved her hand dismissively. “I’m sure it will. If you’ll just wait here for a couple of minutes, your father is currently indisposed.”
She thinks I’m just wasting everyone’s time, that I’m some damaged kid who can’t tell the difference between a nightmare and a warning from above. If these were just normal dreams, why would each one build off the last, constantly growing and evolving with months in between? To dismiss it so casually is more dangerous than believing could ever be.
Helyan breathed deeply, his voice filled with passion as he spoke. “I’m not broken, you know. The monsters are going to come from the sky, and Visfirth is going to burn. I’ve seen it. Viab’Xexos has lived too long in peace. Someone has noticed and decided it’s time to make us pay for it. I don’t know who they are, and I don’t know why they want to hurt us, but just because I don’t have answers doesn’t mean the visions aren’t true.”
“I never said you were broken, Helyan. I just said you had to wait for your father to get here.”
“My visions are messages from the heavens, given to me to save us from the gruesome fate they foretell. But they can’t save us if we continue to ignore them like the deranged ramblings of a madman. Do you really want to sit by and
watch as everyone you know and love is raised on a pyre and set aflame like a living sacrifice to alien gods? The time has finally come to act before there’s no one left to protect.”
Tala didn’t answer, just turned back to her work, letting silence hang in the air.
Helyan realized his voice had risen as he spoke, and by the end he was almost shouting and sending out a proclamation to everyone within earshot of the terror that would befall them. Unfortunately, instead of the worry and fear that should have come with such an announcement, everyone looked at him
with pity and sadness. They took his warning as confirmation that he was as
damaged as they had heard.
He dropped into one of the guest chairs at Tala’s desk, contemplating the sad reality that people only believed what they wanted to, not what was true.