"D'ya think he's dead?"
"Of course he isn't. Don't be ridiculous!"
"He's not moving. Maybe we were too late!"
"Oh my. He's waking up!"
"See? What'd I tell ya? Course he'll be fine!"
Lucian's eyelids fluttered. Before him, two figures peered into his face. One was a slight, bearded man seated on a fluffy little rain cloud and clad in robes. His blue eyes were gentle and comforting. The other was a scaled, devil-like creature with small wings which just about supported his corpulent frame's current altitude. He regarded his conscious leader with an expression of relief: tusked mouth just about managing a sincere smile.
"Glad to see you're alright, boss." the evil creature drawled.
"I must agree; it is most encouraging to see you awake!" concurred the little man.
Lucian groaned and rubbed his eyes, sitting up and observing the forest in which he now lay; half-hidden by long, wild grass and the close-growing trunks of the trees.
"…and where might the two of you been hiding back in the British Capital?" he groaned. Portal-travel seemed to be taking more of a toll on him than it should do, by rights.
"Well boss, we would've loved to have helped, an all, but we were a little…slow…"
The evil conscience faltered; seemingly through both struggling with his words, and an unwillingness to say what needed to be said. The little pearly man hovered beside him and patted him on the back; a gesture which might normally have provoked a violent outburst, but now caused nothing more than a sarcastic rolling of the eyes.
"What he's trying to say is that we're getting on a little." Ivory sighed "Even by the standards of divine beings; our age and the number of summons we have survived has left us somewhat…drained?"
"I don't…feel old." Lucian frowned, lifting a hand and examining his smooth, tapered fingers. There were no wrinkles here.
"I don't think the elderly ever really feel 'old', Leader. We simply feel the cold a little more, as it were."
"Oh man… we're weak… I feel so useless." Ebony grunted, scratching his ass with one clawed hand. Ivory rolled his eyes.
"We can still do out godly work as well as before. If anything, age will have honed our skills! Let's get settled here in this land before we worry about what the future holds."
"Sure; let's do that. I bet there are some helpless villages to be plundered!"
The two little figures vanished from Lucian's vision in a puff of white cloud and a sulphuric red fog respectively. Lucian knelt, and then leapt high into the sky, gazing down upon the land on which they had arrived. It was a serene, green place: with a wide, rounded centre and two 'tips' which were comprised of small mountains, with paths leading down to the main body of the land. They stood upon the northern peak of the land; which was covered by a small mane of forest, and on the far southern peak was a small, walled village. In between these two points, the island was dotted with tiny hamlets, and the odd village of reasonable enough size to warrant capturing. All of these were settled on or in the valleys between the rolling hills which comprised the island, and many (including the tiny hamlets) were ringed by barley and corn fields as though a great hand had circled them on a map.
"Ooohh Boy! Look at all these plump little towns to plunder and ransack!"
"Now, now! Don't be so vulgar! We could simply tempt them to join our cause by constructing a city worthy of their attentions!"
"Shut it beardy! We're gonna be recruiting armies, and reduce these heathen settlements to rubble!" Ebony rubbed his mottled chin "Whilst taking a moderate fee from their storehouses!"
"That would be simply monstrous! This looks like the Irish tribe! They are a peaceful race!"
"Both of you are already giving me a headache. Let me get a good picture of this place first."
"Leader, these villagers appear to have a Tribal Commander. Let's listen in on his thoughts!"
Lucian closed his eyes and focused his attentions on the land below him. He felt the fragile lives of every single little person on the island; their hopes, desires, and then he found the one he was looking for:
The man was a young fellow in his mid twenties. His brown hair was long, and tied back into a ponytail, and he wore the simple outfit of a farmer's assistant. Over the top of it, he had fastened a belt with a brace of pistols and a stolen sabre, and his young, kindly face was split by a jagged scar which caused one eye to droop slightly as it passed over it. The scarred man stood at the very edge of the cliff by the walled village on the far side of the island, surveying the lands below him. Behind him, numerous villagers, both armed and not, had gathered to hear him speak. Finally, he did so:
"Brothers." he began, his light, intelligent voice loud and clear on the morning air "The British have left; abandoned us to defend their homeland from the American invaders."
An approving mutter behind him. The crowd were pleased.
"Thus, we are left alone here. Below us; their villages and towns are corrupted and curtailed by their soldiers no longer. We are free, and we must lead those lost souls with our torch of liberty!"
"But sir" a green-jacketed soldier remarked "our numbers are few. How do we capture and garrison them?"
"We do not, brother! Your soldiers' brave efforts to resist the British during their occupation of our homeland will not be forgotten, but now we must put aside the ways of war. We cannot win the hearts and minds of our kin with the sword or musket."
"Then what do you propose?" the soldier folded his arms, frowning.
"We focus on construction and rebuilding this shattered town; until it is a great city! Then they shall flock to us in the dozens!" He gestured to the walls behind him, and this close, it was possible to see the poor condition of the defences; their crumbling, moss-encrusted faces, and the buildings behind them, which were in a similar condition.
"I say" remarked Ivory, approvingly "This fellow has my respect; a man of peace indeed!"
"Bah, goody-goody. It'll just be all the easier to put 'em to the sword!"
They were interrupted by the sudden arrival of an out-of-breath boy of around twelve, who paused at the edge of the group to catch his breath, before blurting out his message:
"Sir!" he puffed "British, on the island sir!"
The scarred commander turned to face the child, eyebrows raised.
"You are sure it's them?"
"Yes sir! It's them alright!"
"They come to reclaim the land we are just about to take back, ourselves?" he muttered, massaging his scar. "Or perhaps…" he then looked straight up at Lucian. "Perhaps they flee from something terrible."
Lucian was invisible to him, of course: he was in symbol form, but he couldn't help but feel the man's eyes bore into his very being. He shivered; feeling a small chill running through his form: being this far outside of his territory was enfeebling him further than he already had been because of his age.
"I shall take a raiding party against them!" The soldier again, hand resting on the pommel of his sword. The leader shook his head.
"They are mere refugees! I am certain they would have brought troops, if they intended to capture this land again. We shall construct buildings with which to tempt them into our care."
"You would provide sanctuary for these…murdering bastards!" The soldier stepped forwards, his voice raised. In a blur of green, the leader had turned and was levelling a pistol at the man's head.
"Remember this, Cornwell. We are only here because of my leadership. Do not question my judgement, and I shall lead you to victory. Is it really worth grinding down our numbers even further, just for the sake of some petty quest of revenge?"
"You would protect these people?" the soldier was incredulous, despite the weapon levelled at his face. The leader shrugged.
"The Americans turn on their allies; a tribe as mighty as the British, then they are bound to come for us eventually. Perhaps we can impress them enough to offer an alliance with us."
The greencoat was silent for a moment, and the pistol was lowered from his forehead.
"The way of peace is upon us, brothers. Rejoice and begin repairs on the village. We will transform it into a mighty city!"
"Come leader, let us return to our lands and begin constructing a town."
"Grrr… I say we just throw down a couple houses, fields, a storehouse, then we get started on the Barracks!"
"We shall see. For now, hush please."
They left the Irish townsfolk to their renovation efforts and swooped back to where their own British villagers had constructed a Town Center: a small square building, constructed from wood and bricks, which contained various records pertaining to the town it represented. Around it was a road; which otherwise simply went to highlight how empty the would-be town really was. Flapping in the wind above the town centre was a flag, upon which was daubed a crude representation of a house.
"I trust you remember all about desire flags, leader?" Ivory asked, gesturing at it "The image on the flag corresponds to what the villagers most desire. Of course, you could find that out by listening in on their conversations, but it provides an easy overview of the village-"
"Yeah, yeah, the boss knows all about that." Ebony yawned, flapping his hands at his opposite as though shooing him away "What he does need to know is what's changed around here. Technology and weapons! Tell 'em beardy!"
With a resigned sigh, the good conscience provided a brief overview:
"We are in the middle of a big clash between old and new, leader." he said "while soldiers can still carry swords, bows and spears (which some do) they now rely on 'guns'. Musketry and Cannons have changed the way these people fight."
"Yeah boss: cannons can really wreck stuff: you gotta' make sure all your important buildings are well-protected, else they're gonna get smashed to bits!"
"I see. Well thank you, guys, but for now I think we can content ourselves with the knowledge that this Tribal Commander is not an aggressive one. Let's build our town and allow these people to rest: they have been through an awful lot today."
The huddle of people now rested inside, or around, the town centre. Some were crying, or had been, whilst others were numb with shock. It was a sorry sight, to say the least.
"Do you recall your 'God-Building' ability, leader?" Ivory asked "We could help these poor people out a little."
"Nah, they gotta learn to be tough! I say we make an example of a couple of the sorry beggars: they'll shape up, sharpish, after that!"
Lucian mentally drew together the plans for the simple house, and then placed the guidelines in a semicircle behind the Town centre, before tracing a rough path which would later become a road; reaching all five of the buildings. Then he tore up trees and boulders; crushing them with his mind and mentally piecing together the components above the foundations, before pulling the finished products together with a grunt of exertion. Five comfortable houses, made from stone and wood, sat ready for their occupants. The villagers slowly made their way towards the houses, gazing at them in wonder; as though they were the finest Amphitheatres in ancient Greece, then entered them without hesitation, for this was surely a gift from the gods. In symbol form, hanging in the air above them, Lucian smiled as he felt some strength return to him: their belief was improving his own condition.
Things were looking up.