Fictus was impressed with what he was seeing.
Lights were flashing and flying around him in this dark room. They seemed to gravitate around a purple crystal about the size of a watermelon.
"As cool as this is, what does this have to do with anything?"
At his side stood a short, chubby man who was the mayor of this town. He kind of reminded Fictus of Santa Claus.
"Well, this is what we call a Void Crystal. I like to show it to foreigners such as yourself because they can withstand its presence without threatening their health."
He had a narwhal horn in his hand and was pressing it to his right temple. A peculiar glow was emanating from the tip.
"Wait... is this thing bad?"
The man's belly shook like a bowl full of jelly as he chuckled.
"It can be, yes. This crystal releases great amounts of Void energy. Natives such as myself would normally be driven to madness by its presence, like that of a Voidspawn. Also like a Voidspawn, if part of the crystal were to enter the body of a native, it would twist them into a new Voidspawn."
Fictus frowned. He hadn't heard anything about people turning into those midnight-black Cthulhu-wannabe monsters.
"In fact, I'd heard about your encounter with the Elder Dragon. It's a good thing you interrupted and turned the Voidspawn to dust with that strange sword of yours. If the dragon had consumed any amount of the Voidspawn's body, it would gain power that would terrorize this entire region."
Frowning, Fictus tried to remember if any part of the Voidspawn had been severed before he'd dealt the killing blow. Apparently even a piece of a face-tentacle would eventually make its way to the dragon's corpse and mutate it.
"As for why we keep such a dangerous thing around, well... it's the closest thing we have to free power in this town. We've lived with these things for several centuries so we've figured out how to use Void energies to power our devices."
Come to think of it, this town had seemed far more advanced than the town Fictus had been staying in up until now. The other town probably didn't have a crystal of its own.
"Mind you, larger towns have larger crystals so they have better stuff than us. I hear the largest city on the continent has a crystal so powerful that they use trains for transportation within the city."
The entire illusion that this was some medieval fantasy world was crashing down. Granted, this was supposed to be a world equally as old as the Earth Fictus had come from, but for technology to be so isolated seemed strange.
"Here, we have a very tight control on energy output, especially considering we only acquired a crystal a century ago. That's why the town's called Ration, after all."
The dumb look Fictus gave him made it obvious that he hadn't known the name of the town.
"...You're a strange one. I can't imagine not knowing the name of the place I'm walking around in. And just because I'm sure you didn't know the other town's name, it's 'Riverdawn'."
Wishing to make the fat man shut up so he could stop feeling like an idiot, Fictus asked a question that had been bothering him ever since he'd seen the crystal.
"So where did it come from? I mean, this is a lot of Void energy to just be spat out like it's nothing."
The fat mayor frowned.
"Well, that's a bit of a longer story. You heard about how fifty years after the Void was sealed, the Voidspawn swarmed out in millions and caused mass destruction, only for them to eventually start killing each other, right? Well, supposedly a greater being emerged from the Void and blocked off its direct control of the creatures. He called himself Deus Ex Lumine and decreed that the Void was not something to be feared, that it was a power to be embraced by all. Then, he collected great amounts of the Void's energy and sent it across the land in the form of crystals. Personally, I think it's just a means of keeping control. After all, the cities that fully accepted his rule were the ones that received the largest crystals. And as for embracing it, I'm not going anywhere near the crystal without this thing."
He pointed at the narwhal horn he was holding to his head.
"Speaking of that... what is it?"
Another 'what an idiot look', though it faded quickly.
"Sorry, I forget you aren't from around here. It's a unicorn horn. We use them to..."
Obviously the mayor had caught Fictus's bizarrely enthusiastic look, as he paused briefly.
"...Unicorns have the strange power to purify Void energies, even though they were born from the Void's taint. All I really know is that every town should have at least one horn within the boundaries in case anyone might be turning into a Voidspawn. Once they lose their mind, it's too late. Now then, I think we've been in here long enough."
Agreeing, Fictus followed the mayor out of the crystal room and eventually back into the town's streets. The air was thick and smelled of smoke.
"What in the world could that be..."
The answer came quickly as a town guard shouted from a watch tower.
"Sir, it looks like Riverdawn is on fire. Wait..."
The guard looked through a pair of binoculars that had been hanging from his neck.
"Son of a... it's a dragon!"
Before the mayor could make any sort of response, Fictus was bolting out of the town's main gate and running in the direction of the smoke. It had taken him the greater part of the day to get there. He'd need to be faster on the way back.
There was no time to lose.
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