!2! .flats

a haze of clay dust, dust that coats the land so thoroughly that it glows, vibrant and vicious. When dropped into darkness, they clarify, dust clouds giving way to a plateau of nothing at all. Not simply content to starve its inhabitants of water or food, the Flats starve the senses of consultation, of interest or detail entirely.

She ached for something to do beyond walking. She had left the Singularity weeks ago, taking their portal network to get onto Earkran without much fuss from the Creare kingdoms. She’d got a ride on an airship from there, but eventually even the hardiest airmen couldn’t be convinced to fly over the Flats. For several days now, she’d done nothing but trudge along abandoned paths and roads, through an area of Earkran far too large for such a simple name. She hit the border territories first, rife with traders and hagglers desperate to make some money in the face of Craven expansion onto their lands. Then after that, the Bandit camps and nomadic tribes, which she tactfully bribed with faked Arcana crystals passed off as diamonds. She was eager to get past them, out into the wilds and the freedom from other Ori.

But now?

Now she longed for them. For the bustle, the activity. The sprawling expanse of the Singularity, her home. The apartment she loved so much, overlooking its most beautiful views. Some semblance of civilisation. Some semblance of order.

As she hefted the weight of her greatcoat over her shoulders, something pricked her attention, a small needle pressing on the edge of her consciousness. She stilled herself, resting on her staff and feeling its weight lock into what loose soil there was. Her gaze was forward, or as forward as she knew with nothing in any direction to focus on, but she reached out with her other senses.

Well then. That’s something, at least, she thought.

A moment passed.

Two.

Three.

Whatever it was, it knew she could feel it. After so much time without any interaction, it was difficult to maintain focus in the silence around her, absolute as it was except for the shallow breaths she permitted herself. The Singularity was so very far from this place, both in distance and substance, and its amenities were utter luxury compared to the nothingness