Even now, a month after arriving in the great fortress of the Legion, Myrrin still couldn't quite believe her eyes whenever she saw it. Along with Donnelan, she trailed behind her commander as they made their way out of the remote barracks she and her fellow refugees from Liria had been billeted in. When the commander pushed open the door and strode through, the bright light flared in her eyes and she raised a hand to provide some relief. After several days straight of being locked indoors, the outside was a little too well lit for her to handle.
It was almost like stepping out when on the surface. Overhead was a truly vast space, far larger that even Rhylleh had contained. Numerous powerful crystals dotted the ceiling, flooding the enormous expanse with light. The entire space was arranged as an impregnable fortress, walls and towers in concentric rings radiated outward from the centre, every building was designed to be as defensible as possible, whilst also contributing to the overall layout. In the distance she could see the central tower rising like a mountain from the ground. Forged completely of red iron, the impossible tower dominated the entire expanse, dyeing the skyline a blood red, along with its eight siblings. The sister towers formed a great ring around the central pillar, rising to tremendous heights and standing guard over the fortress, iron spears of unbreakable will.
As impressive as the outer towers were, hundreds of metres tall and perfectly straight, they were like nothing any of the Lirian Legionaries had ever seen before, they faded into the background when compared to the central fort. It dominated the entire, vast expanse with ease. A brooding titan of rust red metal that climbed from the floor of the expanse to close to the ceiling, more than two kilometres high. Built in layers, the tower grew thinner as it rose, each new section protected by its own wall and defences. Even from this far away they could make out the enormous siege engines that dotted the walls. This vast structure was the very heart of the Abyssal Legion, wherein the highest ranking members made decisions that would be carried out by their legionaries across Pangera.
It was difficult not to imagine what secrets were contained within, what knowledge had been hidden away since the Legion had been founded. If there wasanywhere that forbidden technologies and methods would be held, it would be there, the Red Mountain.
"I've never been in the Mountain," Myrrin muttered to Donnelan, "have you?"
His eyes were fastened on the looming fortress.
"Of course not," he rasped back, "you think they just allow anyone in there?"
She noticed her friend was unusually pale, and sweating as they walked.
"You look as if you've seen a ghost. What's wrong with you? Is the Red Mountain that intimidating?"
It certainly was to her. It's a freaking mountain made of metal! Who ever heard of such a demented thing?!
"You realise who we're going to go and see, right?" Donnelan hissed.
Myrrin's eyes widened.
"The commander's wife? I've never met her, she left Liria before I had the chance. Have you ever seen her?"
"Not that," he said, "the title. Consul. We're going to see the Consul!"
Myrrin allowed that to sink in for a moment.
"Sweet steel of home!" She suddenly cried out loud.
With a SNAP, the commander's boots halted on the road and he turned to face the two of them with a wry expression on his face.
"I can hear every word you've said back there."
Myrrin and Donnelan flushed red from embarrassment, but the commander just waved it off.
"Come walk up here next to me and we'll talk as we go. We don't want you embarrassing yourself in front of Minerva now do we?"
"Of course not, commander!" Myrrin snapped out a crisp salute.
"We wouldn't dream of it, sir!" Donnelan mirrored her movement perfectly.
Titus stared at them.
"Just relax a little," he told them, "you're making me nervous and I'm married to the woman."
He turned around and resumed walking as the two of them caught up to him.
"Look, Minerva might be one of the highest ranking members of the Legion on Pangera, sure. But she's not as terrifying as people make out."
"I don't know, commander," Donnelan said warily, "Aurillia seemed more than a little intimidated."
"Well, sure," he acknowledged, "but that's an isolated case, you'll see."
The two young legionaries weren't much mollified but they had little choice but to follow their leader as he marched onward toward the ever growing mountain in the distance. The streets of the fortress were built to the exacting standard of the Legion engineers. Straight, flat stone and wide paths allowed for the easy flow of traffic and there was plenty of that. Legionaries in armour moving goods to warehouses or delivering supplies to the innumerable barracks throughout the expanse, or moving out to the teleportation arrays for deployment. With so many soldiers and administration staff in one place, the fortress held as many civilians as any city, but here, nothing was allowed to distract from the military purpose of the fortress.
Alberton the loremaster had droned on and on about the place when they'd arrived, blinking through the teleportation gates, filling the head of every legionary who'd never been here with the history of the Abyssal Legion's seat of power.
This place had never been conquered, not even during the Cataclysm, she'd learned. This expanse had been found and claimed by the first Legion in the opening years of the Rending, and as the conflict raged on, they'd built it up to its current state and used it as a staging ground and central organising point for the entire war effort. Its location was an intensely held secret, Myrrin didn't even know what strata they were in, though from the extremely dense mana in the air, she was afraid that she could take a guess.
"Have you been to the forges yet? At the foot of the spears," Titus waved toward the great towers that pierced the sky, "that's where the best arms the Abyssal Legion has to offer are made, including my axe."
Myrrin felt her heart skip a beat with excitement at the news. She'd long admired the commander's axe, a weapon of incredible power. She'd love to see where it was made, but her enthusiasm quickly dimmed. The closer they got to the towering Mountain, the more it's sheer size loomed over them, the more their hearts quailed. The size, scope and power of it was overwhelming. Only the commander was unaffected, his step getting lighter and his stride extending the closer they came to it.