Evryn, Fiction

Dr. Heimler’s Journal (9)

Abominations corralled a small group of people against a wall, trapping them. A group of mono-eyed constructs drifted towards them, resembling unearthly cepholopods from a distance. Picking a victim each,  a beam radiates from their eyes and bathes the chosen person’s face in their gaze. Enthralled and utterly incapable of resisting, three tentacles from the one-eyed constructs pierced their temples, seemingly draining something from their host, spreading infernal-orange cracks across skin wherever they touched. Their victims’ jaws then went slack, and faster than the eye can see, they forced their way into their mouths, their victims’ throats and chest bulging from the foreign body within. A second of spasms ensued, during which the chest of the host glows yellow, with crystalline spikes developing randomly on the host, squirting blood everywhere as flesh is re-purposed into new form. One host body, however, seemed incapable of supporting such changes, evidenced by it collapsing to the floor, a bloody mess of crystal spikes and mutilated internal organs. Those were the lucky ones.

A man gets up and lunges at one of the abominations, landing a solid blow across the remnants of a face. Unfazed, the abomination retaliates with a spike in the man’s throat, then signals for one of its one-eyed brethren to join it. Removing its arm from the throat, the man collapses to the ground, only to be set upon by the one-eyed construct. Beaming in the man’s face, it only takes a second’s moment of hypnotism for the creature to force its way into its new host through the wound in the man’s throat. Another host completes the same transition, the eyes now orange, and screeching in an incoherent language, the newly born abomination joins the ranks of its brethren, its new form moving with unearthly fluidity, albeit its head barely hanging on. The whole transformation process takes lesser than three seconds, and the rest of the ship crew seem fated to join them, except that there were more people than constructs. Even so, the processing was methodical but bloody, like a slaughterhouse. Some one-eyed constructs just attacked their hosts, not bothering with a beam and just forcing their way into their hosts’ bodies. Many of the others were beamed up for a precious few seconds, but their end was all the same. Muffled screams were the end of the process as the abomination forces ran out of constructs to impregnate their victims with, and the remaining humans were led away to an unknown fate.

The ship’s tilting had stopped, but it was from behind the minibar that Heimler witnesses the entire scene. They had slid a short distance before falling straight into the minibar, where they managed to hang on and hide. Using her legs to wedge herself between the counter and the wine racks above her father, Ana sifts through the pouches on her waist, looking for something. 

There’s about 16, I don’t think you can take them-

Shut it, deadbeat. I’m trying to get us out.

Ana fishes out a couple of pills, which she gulps down with the help of some Lantharian gin. The cut on her cheek was bleeding, the wound refusing to close, and for second it glows a searing orange. Gritting her teeth, Ana endures the fleeting sensation as her father keeps a lookout.

Two incoming.

I know.

Do we just run for the lifeboat?

Not yet.

Ana claps her hands together, then whispers-

Homnium Geminus 

Ana lifts her left hand up, and her figure blurs for a second. A slightly translucent image of her appears and lifts off her form, which then grabs her dagger from the right scabbard. A glow then envelops the dagger edges, forming Ana’s kama as the mana blade reforms. Identical in every aspect, the clone Ana then dashes out from behind the minibar and runs upwards towards the wreckage of their room, kama in hand.

Now we go.

Looking at the reflection of the deck to make sure that the abominations had their attention captured, father and daughter crawl out of their hiding spot, making their way down towards the nearest lifeboat. A crash from behind, and the abomination that Ana ‘defeated’ earlier bursts out of the wreckage of the room, lashing out at the clone. Nimble as she was, the doppelganger dodges and leaps higher. Ana looks back and sees the sixteen to one ratio, casts a spell.

Siérhe Strom!

As Ana completes her incantation, a storm of fiery arcane missiles projects from her clone’s left hand, striking its pursuers. A combination of acrobatics and nimbleness keeps the clone from harm, as the fiery missiles track their targets and explode in their faces. Crouching on a railing, the doppelganger waits, and barely dodges an arm missile as the smoke clears. Clearly, these foes were far more stubborn.

Taking advantage of the distraction, Heimler arrives at the lifeboat first and starts working on controls to activate the lowering mechanism. Ana stays 5 yards above him and the lifeboat, casting spells by proxy as she mentally directs her doppelganger’s actions. A soft clink from the main ship, and the lifeboat is lowered slowly into the water.

Nice one.

You like it?

Ana flashes a cheeky grin, but then the cut on her cheek glows again. A split second is a short time to react, and just as Ana turns to jump into the boat, a spiked arm buries itself wrist-deep in her left scapula. Her scream pierces the night air.

ANAAAAA!!!

Caught off guard, another projectile grazes Ana’s neck before she hastily throws up her mana shield to deflect further projectiles. Out in thin air, she falls a few meters, only for the fall to be broken by her own father, who leans over the stern of the life boat, grabbing her right hand. Searing pain rips through her form as she pushes her mana shield further from herself, shielding Heimler from projectiles from above. The father quickly pulls the daughter into the life boat. Laying her on her right side, Heimler leans over to grab at Ana’s left side as the abomination hand squirms inside her back. Pulling the foreign limb out of her back, she lets out a cry as Heimler throws the limb into the ocean, coughing out blood and mucus. It wasn’t good. The projectile had penetrated her leather armor and pierced her ribcage, perforating her left lung, narrowly missing her heart by half an inch. Sweat drenched and coughing up more blood, Ana’s complexion was pale, blood and tears all over the right side of her face, a dark red contrasting the thin line of runic tattoos across her left cheek, which were still glowing. The cut from just now was glowing orange, blood seeping from it. And the abomination horde was descending on their position, all thoughts of the doppelganger forgotten.

Fight on-

Which is then that the doppelganger dances past its foes, a trail of carnage blossoming in its wake as the magic kama severs limbs from abominations. Taking up a defensive stance in front of where the lifeboat was, doppelganger Ana lets out a warcry as the monsters charge her position. A crescent kick at the nearest foe sends it flying behind her, and before her foe recovers, doppelganger Ana drives a push kick into its solar plexus, sending it flying off the back of the ship. Taking a large stride back with the momentum of her kick, a one-armed , headless abomination lunges forward, but a quick roll of the shoulders traps the arm, and doppelganger Ana buries the kama in her foe’s chest. The aqua glow of the magic blade intensifies as it drinks the mana from its foe, only to be removed to slash at another nearby foe. A kick dispatches that enemy over the open sea, as the doppelganger uses the trapped abomination body as a meat-shield for eye-beam fire.

Throwing the mutilated abomination at its comrades, doppelganger Ana leaps forward and buries the kama in another foe, the blade glowing in delight as it drained its next victim. Ripping the kama in an arc as it performed another crescent kick, the doppelganger sunders its foe’s torso and left arm, catching the latter mid-air using it as a bat. The sundered core glows from within the abomination, a trail of leaking mana arcing the path of the kama as doppelganger Ana throws it at another foe in the back. The damaged core shrinks into a concentrated ball of pure energy, and pulls the remnants of its crystal endo-skeleton towards it, warping organic matter into energy as three appendages formed around the crystal bits orbiting it. The one-eyed construct squirms out of the mutilated host body, having no more use for it and targets the doppelganger. Beaming at the doppelganger, it’s gaze lands momentarily, only for the kama to fly back like a boomerang strike it, sending it flying away uncontrollably. That momentary immobilizing effect was more than enough, as an arm-blade pierces the doppelganger’s torso, followed by three more as the clone is swarmed by abominations. A scream rapidly dwindles down to a whisper as the image of Ana flickers and disperses into a thousand aqua wisps that fade away. The kama, seemingly with a mind of its own, falls from the doppelganger’s hand and flies back to it’s mistress in the boat below.

Seeing the battle go unfavorably, Heimler pulls Ana’s short sword from her left scabbard. It felt just right, albeit with a little more heft than an axe, a hammer, or a test tube. Wasting no time, he starts hacking away at the ropes connecting the life boat to the main ship. A low rumble, followed by a hum echoes from below as a giant crystal drill the size of a building bursts from the belly of the ship, rearranging itself into a massive construct with crystal appendages. In its crystal components, Heimler sees humans trapped inside like insects in amber, their features distorted with orange cracks across their bodies. The snapping of a rope sends the life boat falling down the final meter and float in the ocean prow-first. The driller construct hums deeply, and the abominations start jumping onto the lifeboat. 

A second rumble cuts across the night as Heimler catches Ana’s kama on its way back to its mistress. All of a sudden, Ana coughs up more blood and her consciousness fades, all the sensations experienced by her clone suddenly returning to her as it fully de-materialises. The overwhelming sensory input puts her out, and the glow of her runic tattoos fade away. 

NO!!

The mana blade in Heimler’s instantly vanishes, leaving Heimler with a dagger instead of a kama in his right hand and a short sword in his left. A series of impacts on the boat, and the abomination horde face Heimler.

COME AT ME!!!

The abominations waste no time charging at Heimler. They didn’t use their eye-beams on him, but it didn’t matter, he was going to take every single advantage he had. Bellowing a warcry, he takes a step forward and bisects the first abomination with a swing of the sword, his recently augmented arm-strength from self-experimentation paying off already. Heimler was on his next foe before both halves from the first creature hit the floor, slashing randomly like a berserker, sending gore and crystal shards flying everywhere. They massacred a ship of three hundred humans in less than half an hour.

THEY HURT HIS DAUGHTER. THEY WERE GOING TO PAY. 

FASTER AND FASTER HE SLASHES, IGNORING THE CUTS AND STABS THE ABOMINATIONS DEALT TO HIM. HE FEELS NO PAIN. ONLY ANGER.

A third rumble echoes through the night as the waters around the boat churn, and the warmth from the crystal sample in his chest pocket intensifies, but Heimler doesn’t notice it all. 

HE MUST KILL THEM ALL. HIS BODY MOVES MORE FLUIDLY THAN IT EVER HAS, EACH STROKE OF HIS BLADE SEVERING ABOMINATION.

An arm missile pierces his right shoulder, but Heimler’s body forces it out, repairing the tissue damage instantaneously. The waves rocking the boat grow stronger, throwing everything on it off balance. He doesn’t notice the pain or the choppy waters, HE MUST KILL THEM ALL. A sharp pain in his chest catches his attention, and Heimler turns around, only to see a crippled abomination impale his chest. He should be feeling pain. He should be dead. He doesn’t feel anything.

LAUGHING MANIACALLY, HE RIPS THE ARM OUT AND BISECTS THE CREATURE. REGAINING HIS BALANCE, MORE OF THEM RUSH HIM, BUT HE DOESN’T CARE. THEY’LL ALL DIE!! EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM!! IT DOESN’T MATTER IF THEY REGENERATE, THEY DIE!! DIE!! DIE!! DIE ALREADY!!DIE-

WHAt-

HE CAN’T MOVE. 

Behind Heimler, a mono-eye construct beams him up. Immobilized and unable to retaliate, he is slowly being turned around to face the construct. He knows that once the construct looks into his eyes, he is as good as dead. He wills for more power from the crystal sample, but berserker strength didn’t matter at this point. His limbs were dead weights, his balance goes away as he crumples to his knees before collapsing sideways on the floor, at the mercy of the waves. His consciousness begins to waver as an intense fatigue like never before overwhelms him, leaving him prone on the floor, rocking with the choppy waters outside. The only thing keeping him conscious was all the pain that he was starting to feel from his wounds, and the sight of Ana lying on the stern of the life boat, bloody and unconscious. A large orange eyeball comes into his view as a gentle sensation touches his temples. Rocking like a baby in a crib, his life flashes past him, a memory of Dina and Ana cuddling by the fireplace, and his vision fades to black…

…as a fourth rumble came from beneath the waves, followed by an earsplitting roar.

Evryn, Fiction

Dr. Heimler’s Journal (8)

Date: 20/9/1694

Up to this point, Ana and I have only ever engaged in small talk, and I had no idea where to begin. I started out by asking her about the Navori over breakfast, and she’s dismissed them as being a fictional cult to spook people. As a result, I only told her the half-truth of why I left home all those years ago over dinner, leaving out the part of the Navori death threat.

As I finish telling her my story, I’m greeted with silence. She looks at me with a mixture of sadness and utter disbelief, then shakes her head and walks away. I try to get up and go after her, but she’s too fast and out the door, striding on to the front deck. My splitting migraine hits me again and I’m paralyzed due to sheer pain, unable to get off the canteen stool and go after her. When I recovered three minutes later, Ana was still not back, and so I trudged back to our cabin and went to bed.

Four hours later and she’s not back. If memory serves, Ana gives the silent treatment when she’s angry. I don’t blame her. She had every right to be upset, considering that Dina was a mage and that we all could have faced that threat together as a family. Well, maybe she’s pieced two and two together and thinks that I’m a complete idiot, or deadbeat; the irony of being a scientist and spooked by a fictional cult to abandon my family. Godammit, that was the lowest I have ever felt in 8 years time.

I didn’t feel like going after her, not in my current condition. My head still hurts a little ever since I woke up, and I want to do some tests on myself using the samplnfFyfKYdkh,


A sudden impact sends the ship rocking portside.

Belongings, notes and clothes lie scattered round the room, like a storm just tore through it. Heimler gets up on his elbows, only to notice that the floor is slanted at an angle. 

Outside, screams could be heard from the occupants of the ship as the increasing gradient  pushes the ship towards the starboard side. Heimler looks out the open door on the opposite side of the room, only to see people losing their balance and sliding downwards towards the water. Grabbing onto the open window next to the table, he hangs on, only to see the crystal sample fall off  and slide down the room, joining his journal and notes. 

The screaming intensifies outside just as Ana leaps into the room, short sword in hand. Driving the blade into the floorboards, she uses the newly created handhold to swing herself onto the bed right next to her father. 

Are you alright?

What’s going on?!

We’re under attack. 

By who?!

Don’t know, but we need to get off now.

The terrified screams on the front deck died out, replaced by a series of bloodcurdling shrieks. A one eyed construct the size of an arm floated out in view of the window, shining a harsh orange light on Heimler, immobilizing him. Three appendages shot out towards his forehead, each of them glowing with purple energy at the tips, only to be cut off by a glowing kama as Ana leapt towards her father. Shrieking, the creature backs off, releasing Heimler from its trance, and he falls towards the other side of the room. Ana throws her kama into the wall nearby, and grabs her father’s hand while hanging on to the window. It seems to break his trance.

Huh-

Wake up!! We got to leave now.

I-

Save it for later. I’m gonna swing you to the door. We’re gonna run for the smallest lifeboats on the aft side and-

The wall near the door explodes as another creature crashes into the room. Four limbs barely hanging from a sundered torso revealed a molten orb at its open center, a horrible amalgamation of crystalline and organic matter, save for the core. A crystal shard protruded from what used to be a human head, eyes glowing an unearthly orange as crystal spikes grew out of the man’s face. Leveling its gaze at the duo, a left arm digs into the floorboards as the abomination grows spikes from its right arm. The right arm detaches from the abomination-

What the-

Watch out!

-and shoots towards Ana as the abomination leaps towards Heimler. 

Heimler lets go of Ana’s hand, and falls towards the wall behind him, one thing on his mind.

Letting go of the window, Ana kicked against the wall, dodging the arm-missile and launches herself at the abomination. Runic tatoos glowed emerald as a translucent shield projects from her outstretched left hand. Shaped from hundreds of hexagons, the mana shield as tough as surtnarian maculite, yet weightless and twice as effective produces a resounding crack as Ana collides into the abomination, sending it crashing into the back of the room four yards from where Heimler was, and hangs on to the shortsword she planted earlier. 

What was that for?!

Before Heimler could reply, the right arm missile retracts towards its owner as the abomination clawed upright, if that was even possible given how slanted the ship was. Without even waiting for the detached limb to reattach, an unmistakable snap came from the abomination as its head breaks off and floats towards Ana’s right flank, firing a concentrated eye beam at her. Ana propels herself towards her glowing kama by the window, parrying blows with her gauntlets as the abomination leaps into melee range. Trapping a right hook from the abomination, Ana slices off its spiked arm with her magic kama, the blade glowing brighter as it drank in its victim’s mana. Too late to block the incoming retaliatory slash from her left, Ana dodges back, but a searing pain across her cheek meant that she took a hit. Noticing the severed right arm in her hand trying to slash at her, and the floating head re-positioning to get a better shot at her, Ana throws the arm at the floating head, sending it spinning away. A back thrust kick sends the rest of the abomination flying across the room, away from her father. That gave her time to recover, grabbing her travel cloak off the floor, and sheathing her short sword and kama. 

A shriek. The abomination’s parts start reassembling while firing eye beams, but Ana tanks it with the brunt of her mana shield, and raising both hands, she yells:

SIÉRHE!!

Pyro-blasts erupt from both of Ana’s hands as she fires at the abomination and at the wall behind her father. Two holes the size of a bed tear open in the room as the abomination is blasted outwards. Taking advantage of the chaos, Heimler scrambles for his journal and a precious few notes. Tucking them in his shirt, he runs over his important things mentally, and is missing one particular crystal. He crawls back into the wreckage of the room, frantically searching for the crystal sample.

What are you doing, dad?!

A loud crack pierces the room as the abomination leaps back into the wreckage of the room, its organic components still on fire, revealing a misshapen crystal endo-skeleton beneath. The shriek dies down as Ana’s fire burnt away the abomination’s throat, but the creature carried forward, apparently incapable of  feeling pain.

There! In the rubble of the drawer, a soft glow shrouds a crystal, the sight unmistakable. Heimler grabs the crystal as the abomination leaps towards him, only to receive another pyroblast from Ana, staggering it but not taking it out.

Heimler barely manages to shove the crystal sample into his jacket before Ana grabs him by his left arm. With what little strength had left, she pulls him clear of the wreckage and tosses him out the opening in the wall onto the slanted deck. All the while, the tilting of the ship only worsened, and incapable of balancing, Heimler slides down the deck, followed swiftly by Ana. The creature tries to follow, and is hindered by the table in the room crashing into it.

My God.

As they slid down the deck, the scene that beheld them was something out of a nightmare. 

 

 

 

 

 

Food, Quickies

A dose of Nostalgia

Penang Hokkien Noodles

Been here for 45 years, this store has only recently started gaining popularity among the Malaysian foodies. Luckily for me, my uncle happens to run this store, and during my visit to my grandfathers’ he decided to drop by too.

20180917_144539.jpg
Meet my aunt and uncle; the husband-wide duo that have been running the store their their parents’ days.

Where the topic of food is concerned, there will always be differences in taste/preference, and it is never more apparent especially among Penangese Malaysian. Do I think that he makes the best Hokkien noodles on the planet? Maybe not. Do I think that his dish tastes good, and is a great addition to the variety in Penang Hokkien cuisine? Hell yeah.

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Nostalgia in a bowl for me. What’s yours? Comment below and have a nice day!!

Cost: RM4.50 per bowl; additional pork ribs cost RM 1 per piece

What to expect:

A recipe perfected over 45 years, it is no surprise that my uncle stopped selling laksa and curry noodles in favor of these Hokkien Noodles, as evidenced by the aroma wafting from the soup itself. Misua and yellow noodles are the carbohydrates present in the dish, complimented by prawns, pork strips, bean sprouts, hard boiled eggs, pork ribs, and fried onions. The dish itself comes with a tablespoon of sambal (Malaysian hot sauce), in case you want to mix it into the soup for an added boost of spice. The first mouthful is instant love. The sweet, (slight) spiciness of the prawn broth overpowers everything on your tongue, leaving nothing but a wonderful tasting sensation that warms it to the core. With the second mouthful, you start picking up on more subtle flavors in the dish: from the sweetness of caramelized onions to the undercurrent of pork flavor, and if you mixed in the sambal, the flavor of the belacan that is enhanced by the soup. The flavors are soaked up by, or complimented by the individual ingredients, leaving an slightly sweet, prawn-ish, umami aftertaste on your tongue once the experience is over. And if you’re like me, who enjoys strong, unique, flavors in my food, you know you’ll be ordering a second bowl soon enough.

Note:

According to my uncle, the secret to this dish is the SLOW boiling of pork bones (or ribs) and prawn shells together to produce the soup which is the highlight of the dish. This is made even better when left to simmer over a long, slow, coal fire, where the full flavors in the soup can be unleashed. However, this tradition is dying out, as the increasing demand pressures hawkers into using gas stoves, which cook faster but do not yield the same character as when prepared traditionally. Also, the pork intestines are optional, too.

What’s more, the best part about the New Lane Street is that it is next to Macalister Road in Penang, a haven for some of the best culinary hotspots that Penang has to offer.

Evryn, Fiction

Dr. Heimler’s Journal (7)

The rising sun illuminated the room, casting a soft, yellow light on everything it touched. Sunbeam in his face, he rubs his eyelids and yawns. He is greeted with soft, brown hair that glowed a beautiful ochre in the morning light, messily framing a pretty oval face a few inches from his.  

Life is good.

His right arm numb, he sneakily loosens it from the pillow beneath her head. His left arm reaches behind her back, feeling the warmth of her flesh beneath his touch. He pulls her closer, not that they weren’t already right next to each other, and nuzzles her on the forehead. Eyes still closed, she flashes a lazy smile. He prods her cheek, she grunts. Typical Saturday mornings; she won’t be getting up anytime soon. 

Can you get the postt? I’m expecting that invitationnn~~

Only if you fix breakfast~

mmmmhmmmmm…

Someone’s being a bad girl.

He tickles her vigorously.

Sthapp~

Breakfast 😛

mmmmmhmmmmmm~~~

A peck on her cheek and her reciprocatory grin seals the deal. He gets out of bed and walks out of the room. 

Mug of coffee in hand, he walks out to the front door. Alirean lilies dotted the front yard, their soft, purple and amber glows from male and female flowers respectively fading in the morning light as the flowers slowly closed shop. The hilly landscape ahead was scarcely dotted with houses, and the mist was slowly rolling out from the depths of the hills. Lively birdsong sounded from everywhere a sign that the Alirean valley was coming to life, ready to begin a new day.

Ten paces places him in front of the mailbox, where he peers into the mail. Sifting through them as he walks back to the house were three letters; the expected invitation to the neighbors’ Yue’da moonlight festival next week; a letter from the local school, and an unmarked letter.

He opens the last letter, the cover a sturdy paper of pristine quality, but with no decorations, markings, or words. Its only content was a slip of paper, and the only thing inscribed on the paper was a symbol. An eye with reptilian pupils leaked a tear that curved in the shape of an s, topped with a triangle above the eye itself. The symbol had a rainbow hue to it, but as he stared, it took on a shade of pitch black, then the tear started bleeding downwards, the black transitioning to blood-red. The symbol then lifted off the paper, slowly dissolving into jet-black  vapor that dispersed into the morning air, leaving only the blood-red trail on the paper.

The Navori were supposedly an urban myth, a tale to scare people. The only known thing about their cult was their symbol, which guaranteed death for the individual who saw it bleed.

His clients weren’t supposed to be shady, or were they? That would explain the fact that members of his team disappearing on a monthly basis, never to be heard from again. Whatever it was, apparently it was far too deep, and they didn’t want loose ends. How were they even working for the Navori in the first place? How did they know he lived here?

When would they strike? Today? Next week? A month, like what happened to his friends? A year?  His blood runs cold, all the sleep gone from his system as his mind went into overclock mode.

All thoughts of a lazy Saturday out the window, he runs back into the house. He runs past the smell of freshly cooked omelettes drifting from the kitchen, dropping the letters on the table. Rushing into their room, he throws open a suitcase, then runs into the study and starts gathering research papers, clothes, and notes. The commotion isn’t unnoticed as she peeks in.

Fuck, fuckfuckfuckgodammit!!

What’s the matter?

Uhm, I need to leave now, urgent, late for a meeting, I’ll be back in abit.

How long will you be gone for?

It’s urgent, but I need you both to stay safe for me alright? I don’t know how long I’ll be gone, probably a month, but I’ll be back, I promise.

What’s this about-

I can’t tell you, but I need you to trust me when I say I need to go now!

Hey-!

He grabs her by the shoulders, and glares into her eyes.

Dammit, I want to tell you but I can’t, so God help me, swear that you’ll keep yourselves safe!!

I promi-

That’s all I need. I love you.

The bewilderment on her face barely registers before he drops a quick kiss on her lips, and he was down the hallway the next second. The man, in his rush, bumps into a teenage girl, the splitting image of her mother. 

What’s the rush?

It’s important, I’m erhm, late for a meeting…got to go, I’ll see you later!!

Shrugging, she said; I’ll see you later. Love you.

He was already out the door, the ground disappearing beneath him in rapid paces. He needed to be anywhere but here. It wouldn’t make a difference, but he needed to disappear, and quick. Yarrmathia? Lanthara? West Surtnar? It didn’t matter, he kept running, even with the sharp morning air searing his lungs, he ran, knowing that to stop was to embrace death, to turn back was to put his family in danger. He ran, knowing that his work had cost them all far too much. He ran until his legs gave out, crashing him into the dirt, but he picked himself up and forced his exhausted body to keep moving. He ran, and with coin he bought a strong graght, and riding on the beast he headed for West Surtnar.  

Life just went horribly south, and so Pirean Heimler disappeared off the face of Evryn.


Date: 19/9/1694

My ‘gone for a while’ was 8 years ago. The Navori haven’t come for me yet, unless that letter was some sick joke, or that they were biding their time, ‘toying’ with their food. 8 fucking years is a long time for a death threat to come full circle. Goddammit, I have lived like a rat, going by aliases and living in highly guarded institutions. My considerable wealth was depleted to keep my cover, to go places, to disappear. Then I arrived in Anaya a year ago broke, and literally begged Garrick to take me in as I helped with research. No one would be looking for Toomis, a haggard, tanned, long-haired man who was a shadow of who I used to be. The Anayan Research Institute (ARI) was secure for my needs, guarded by magical sentries all the time and being capable of transforming into a bastion, and it was close to the capital of Lanthara, which meant reinforcements.

Now on the boat on the way to Vanar, the safety of the Anayan Research Institution lies far behind me. Hoax or not, these thoughts of the letter occupy my thoughts again. Eight years was a long wait, but would the Navori strike when I was out in the open? More importantly, could Ana protect me? Could I augment myself to the point where I become literally unkillable instead? That’s it!!

I don’t care if it that goddamned letter was an actual death threat or some sick joke, screw all the danger the world could throw at me. I had a solution. I’m sick of hiding from unknown danger; COME AT ME. I will not stand for letting my family down a second time, and Ana deserves to know the truth of why I left home eight years ago.

Yeah, I’m gonna do it. Eight years’ worth of atonement had to start somewhere.

And this time, time is on my side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food, Travel

Bukit Mertajam food treasures

Note: Food prices listed in Ringgit Malaysia

Kedai Kopi Ah Meng

Literally translating to Ah Meng’s Coffee Shop, this small, corner lot has been around for quite a while. It also happens to be a favorite go-to spot for locals and foreigners alike, made famous by the people who run the place. As I happened to be visiting my grandfather in Kulim (a nearby town), I took the opportunity to drop by and try these food treasures for myself. (Address is in this link.)

Looks very unassuming from the outside, then again it’s 4 in the afternoon when I arrived.

Rojak

One of the two stores in the coffee shop is run by a friendly lady by the name of Stella, who has been doing this for the past 15 years. The result? A pretty darn good plate of rojak.

Thanks, Stella!!
I ordered a RM 10 portion, time to dig in.

Cost: RM 4.00-10.00, depending on the portion

What to expect:

Rojak in Malay literally translates to a mixture. So it’s no surprise that the dish embodies the name in culinary form, containing chunks of mangoes, turnips, pineapples, cucumbers, chinese fried fritters, and prawn crackers. Then top it all off with a flood of thick, homemade prawn sauce, with varying amounts of sambal (local hot sauce), and then rain a heavy garnish of nuts to finish it off. Take a jab with your skewer, and surprise yourself. The beauty of this dish lies in the strong taste of the sweet, slightly salty, prawn sauce that takes center stage, and no matter the condiment you happen to pick, you’ll adding a slightly different twist of flavor to the performance on your tongue. Even better, the crunch from the nuts and the ingredients compliment the flavors, making for a unique culinary experience.

Note:

Stella’s personal recommendation is the spicy one, as she likes her rojak that way. 9/10 would recommend that, especially if you’re adventurous/love your spice.

Popiah

Run by the folk who own the coffee shop (who deigned to be named), this popiah is the must-have food if you ever visit. Where Stella’s rojak is pretty damn good already, the popiah here is to die for, having a reputation as the best in Malaysia’s food capital, Penang.

Cost: RM 4.50 per portion

What to expect:

Yes, it’s a giant roll cut into 4 pieces. Where the rojak has an emphasis on the sauce and all its goodness derived from the combination of different ingredients, the popiah is quite the opposite. Pack chicken strips, lettuce, bean sprouts, and prawns into a wrap. Now add  fried onions in it. The result is a simple, yet extremely satisfying wrap brought to life by the caramelized flavor of the fried onions, with the stuffing of the prawns and turnips bringing a subtle more mellow, flavor as well as texture to the table (literally). The hot sauce served with the dish brings another dimension to the simple combination, creating a culinary experience that is beautifully simple like no other.

Note:

Yes, the wait times can get long, expect 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the crowd. My advice is to order both the rojak, then the popiah, that way you can have the rojak while waiting for the popiah.


Kap Bung Steam Rice

A shop on it’s own, this culinary tourist attraction is the main attraction in Bukit Mertajam. Located just round the corner from Kedai Kopi Ah Meng, there is always a long queue outside the counter, and you’d be lucky to get a seat at all.

He’s been doing this for about 16 years now, and yes, he’s busy ALL the time.

 

Preparation is a simple process for him, but it’s the hard work behind the counter that we don’t see and appreciate enough.

 

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Cost: RM 5.50 per portion, RM 7.00 per large portion

What to expect:

The uniqueness of the dish lies in not in some secret magic sauce, but in the ingredients themselves. Imagine roast pork, roast duck strips, and roast chicken, packed together with nice, delicious rice, in a cup (which is where the dish got its name from; kap bung literally translates to cup rice in hokkien). Top it all off with a healthy serving of gravy and soy sauce and you have the best chicken rice in the whole of Malaysia. Only one word even comes close to embodying the taste of the Kap Bung: umami.

Note:

Come later in the afternoon, as the lunch hour crowds are a real large for both the customers and the vendors. Read up what the locals think of Kap Bung here, and if you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, the address is in the aforementioned link.


Evryn, Fiction

Dr. Heimler’s Journal (6)

Date: 17/9/1694

What does it mean to be filled with hope? I’ve always been an atheist, ask me about miracles a week ago and I’d likely invalidate your argument in the worst way possible.

I don’t know if its the start of a paradigm shift, but from the ‘miracle’ crystal sample, to my daughter showing up as her assignment, to being able to enjoy Anayan chicken stew again, my mind might just start to change. Honestly, I’m undecided. As cynical as I am, I’m still careful while I conduct my research, and I question the motives of the powers that assigned Ana here. I initially thought that Garrick arranged for a Spellblade to accompany me to help with my research. How did he know about the significance of my research in the first place when I’ve only discussed the sample with him once? Was Ana here of a Spellblades’ assignment, or was it an order from the Grand Council of Mages? Does Ana even know the significance of my research?

I don’t really know what to do about all these questions, and so I think I’ll stick to my current option: travel to Vanar, play dumb, see what I learn, maybe I can even turn things to my advantage. Uncertainty fills my path ahead, but while I catch up with my daughter, I can perhaps learn something about my current circumstance. What is certain however, is my shot at being able to make a difference in the scientific and magical communities, and my second chance at being a father to my not-so-young-anymore Ana. To those glimmers of hope, I say: we take those.

Speaking of my experiments last night, I conducted the first human experimentation. If my hypothesis from the mice experiment was right, it should not go wrong if I concentrate properly.


Human experimentation notes #1                                                                                  16/9/1694

Subject: Pirean Heimler (me)

  1. Heat crystal sample up in warm water.
  2. Expose left arm to warm crystal for 30 seconds, concentrate on improving grip strength. Handle with right hand, use glove.
  3. Wait and see how it turns out. Get a towel to bite on in case it hurts. Painkillers on standby as a last resort.
  4. Clean up thoroughly afterwards.

Observations (luckily I’m right-handed):

Feeling a strange, tingling sensation in my left arm. It is not uncomfortable, but it seems to get more itchy. About 10 seconds pass, and now my aRm hUrts LiKE HeLl, LiKe smTH iS crUsHinG Tt. N0anMnWghjkTmsdg

Writing this after the pain subsides, which was about three minutes after exposure to the sample. The pain feels like something in my arm is being crushed at first, then as time passes it feels as if a thousand white hot needles are being jabbed into my arm. As quickly as the second sensation appears, it subsides, replaced by fatigue and soreness, like when I exert myself through overexercising. Apart from the skin on my arm rippling slightly throughout the process, there are small visible changes after that.

Results:

Writing this the next day (17/9/1694). My arm feels weird. I am definitely not used to this degree of vitality or strength in my movement, evidenced by a broken cup when I gripped it a little harder than usual. From my guess, it seems that my left forearm strength has been improved by about threefold. My left arm also appears more muscular, with several veins popping out (reminds me of when I was Ana’s age). This will take some time getting used to.

Conclusion:

If what this test shows is true, then it seems that the crystal sample allows me to reverse the effects of aging, and I cannot stress how much that it feels like playing God to a certain degree. Whether the crystal can prolong life by exposure through the constant reversal of aging requires further testing.


Turns out, it worked, although it will take some time getting used to. Since I dislike imbalance, I repeated the same on my right arm, so that it does not look out of place. I can attribute my strength to carrying alot of stuff in my time in Anaya as an excuse. Maybe I should repeat the same on my infrequent headaches which were the last of the annoying symptoms from a few days ago, while the rest seem to have disappeared. Maybe I can be a magical healer of some sort, too? That wouldn’t be too bad either. Fingers crossed, hopefully Ana doesn’t notice anything.

Speaking of Ana, she seems ever-so-slightly excited to teach me the basics of magic, using Garrick’s scryfer as a textbook. I’m really looking forward to that, father-daughter quality time. I’m wonder, does she not have any resentment towards me, leaving her and Dina all those years ago?

“You had your work ahead of you, and while I hated you then, I learnt to forgive you for it. I’m giving you a second chance, but if things were the same as 8 years ago, we’ll part ways for good once this is over.”

Going back to being all cool and calm, a croquette vendor caught her attention and she started being curious again, just like when she was younger. I’m going to hold myself to this promise: to be the father she needs, because we are the only family that the other have. I smile at the thought of our family, and with a literal elixir of youth contained in my bag, I sip my cup of tea and savor a moment on the front deck. We leave for Vanar tomorrow.

Maybe that’s what hope is, a guiding beacon of light in a sea of uncertainty. Faith that all things will turn out alright.

Evryn, Fiction

Dr. Heimler’s Journal (5)

Date: 16/9/1694

I would confidently say that I’m not someone easily surprised. The past few days have proven me wrong and today was no different.

Having barely an hour to pack my belongings as soon as I was released from confinement, I only managed to grab the bare essentials and my travel cloak before running down to the lab to grab the crystal sample. Meeting Garrick by the main lobby, I was introduced to my companion from the Spellblade Order.

Slender with a well built figure, with hands on her hips, she stood tall and proud in her purple and gold travel cloak and light runic armor. Twin runic blades sprouted out of scabbards on her waist, complimented by an array of pockets possibly containing magical artifacts of her own. Taking off her hood, brown hair tinged with white streaks tied loosely in a braid complimented a slightly tanned oval face. Dilated pupils framed by green irises poked out from under close-set eyes, and her thin lips were open in an unmistakable sign of surprise.

She may have white streaks in her hair, a line of small runic tattoos running down her left cheek, but otherwise was the very splitting image of her mother, Dina.

“Dad?”

“Ana…”

Eyes like mine stared at each other, an awkward few seconds of silence passing between us. I don’t know ho to put it, but my mind went blank at that moment. Stepping forward, she embraced me tightly; 8 years apart was a long time for a daughter to be away from her father.

Pleasantries were exchanged with Garrick, and without further ado, we set off for the Anaya town square. Turns out, it was her first time in Anaya so I took the pleasure of showing her around. From the arcane statue in the middle of town to my favorite restaurant in town, we settled in there and talked over Anayan chicken stew.

Ana left home with Dina at 16, and spent 4 years completing her studies while working to support her mother, who had contracted magiseptsis* a year after our divorce. While I moved over to Lanthara to conduct more research, she was already moving up in the world of magic as Dina’s apprentice. 3 years after she left home, Dina passed away and Ana chose to join the Spellblade Order after the funeral. Not long after that, she passed the trials and became a full-fledged Spellblade herself, her first mission being the take-down of an illegal arms smuggling ring in Yarmathia. Taking on several more assignments with her team, her last mission was the containment of the beast that caused a disaster in Surtnar, and now she’s here to accompany me on my research trip to Vanar.

I didn’t know how to properly process it all. She had been through so much, and I wasn’t there for her. I think of the letters from Dina in the first two years that I never opened due to my obsession with my work, and the stream of letters that slowly trickled to none after the second year. Had I been that selfish, refusing to reach out to my ex-wife when she needed me the most? I feel worthless, sacrificing everything that had ever loved me to achieve recognition in the pursuit of knowledge. I don’t deserve my beautiful daughter, and no matter how much I may try, a part of me will always feel guilty for ignoring my family. For the first time in a long time, I cried.

Now in a room in the inn above, I look at Ana as she sleeps. She’s so beautiful, and it feels like I’m staring at Dina again. A gentle lamp illuminates the room and I’m left alone with my thoughts. Retirement thoughts, starting over in Surtnar, maybe even opening my own research institution? Not sure how I can go about doing it, but if anything would make it possible, it would be the crystal sample in my bag. I think I’m gonna study Garrick’s scryfer, then work on a few more experiments myself. If my research proves right, and that crystal allows me to play God with matter, then it IS the key to my redemption. With it, I will make the greatest scientific and magical breakthrough the world has ever seen, and finally have a chance make amends with the family that I left behind.

Sleep can wait.


Study notes from Garrick’s scryfer (Historical)

  • The history of magic has been a poorly documented one. Humans have learnt how to wield magic by the end of the third age, and with the present day being the fourth age, we as a species are still relatively young to magic.
  • As far as the first documented use of magic goes, a nomadic people from Surtnar were the first to demonstrate some form of control over magic. The first magic users may have originated in the aftermath of the Sundering**, but the records are sketchy at best.
  • With the rise of the Magyron Empire in south-east Surtnar towards the end of the Third Age, the rate of development of magic was at an all-time high, albeit unchecked. The rampant use of unchecked magic led to conflict with the other nations in east; Surtnar, Zuerta, and Tianzeia as they sought to dominate their neighbors. An internal power struggle between the mages coincided with an attempted coup resulted in a masssive civil war between the dictatorship and those who opposed them in the Magryon Empire.
  • The civil war, combined with the war against Surtnar and Zuerta, resulted in the downfall of the Magryon Empire. Facing two foes and fighting on the inside, the Magryon Empire shrunk to a quarter of what it was, and eventually being driven towards Mount Minomato***. Before the combined forces of Surtnar, Tianzeia, and Zuerta could approach them to negotiate surrender terms with the Magryon dictatorship, the rebels struck first, resulting in the destruction of Mount Minomato and the last of the Magryon dictatorship.
  • In the aftermath of the Magryon war, the mages of Surtnar, Tianzeia and Zuerta banded together and formed the Grand Council of Mages, a governing body to make sure that magic does not run unchecked. Following that, elite mage-warriors from Tianzeia and Zuerta banded together to form the Spellblade Order under the Jurisdiction of the Grand Council.
  • Where the Grand Council oversees the use of magic throughout the world and research on the latest developments, the Spellblade Order acts as a neutral, independent faction in itself until the time the Grand Council has need of their services. Both are based in Deka, and are their own sovereign city state in the Confederacy of Surtnar, but are minimally involved in politics.
  • Despite being 45 years old, some of the notable feats of the Spellblade Order include diplomatic/humanitarian efforts in the north of Yarmathia and Jalantis, and assassination of arcane terrorist Rava the Shifter****. Their most recent endeavor was the imprisonment of a mysterious beast that broke free and wrecked havoc in western Surtnar, and according to official sources the best is currently under study in Deka.
  • The last I heard of the Spellblade Order, they were leading humanitarian efforts in the free lands of Midnor, who happen to be caught in between the warring nations of Vanar and Zuerta.

*Magiseptsis: According to Ana, magiseptsis is also known as ‘Mage’s bane’ in the magic community. It is an extremely rare, incurable disease that attacks the nervous system of a mage, causing excruciating pain whenever they move or cast a spell. Symptoms include fatigue, mana (the mage’s word for energy) burns, extreme fatigue, brittle bones, nausea, vomiting, muscle atrophy, and eventual paralysis in the long run. As far as patients are concerned, there is no known cause and cure for magiseptsis, and treatment only delays the inevitable. The fact that Dina lived for up to two years with magiseptsis is nothing short of miraculous, as normal patients tend to die within a year when diagnosed.

**The Sundering: A cataclysm of unparalleled proportions that tore the continent of Surtnar in half. While records of that time are few and far between, the results of the Sundering can be seen on maps today. The scar left on the world is a massive, continent-wide chasm that supposedly leads into the heart of Evryn known as the Rift, but no one knows for sure. What is known for sure is that the plant life surrounding the edges of the Rift have demonstrated quasi-magical properties, and the area is a well-known mining powerhouse, producing some of the strongest metals the world has seen.

***Mount Minomato: A small mountain that used to exist towards the east of Surtnar and north of where Zuerta is today. The fall of the Magryon empire caused the destruction of the mountain, and today the main bastion of the Zuertan empire rests on top of where the mountain used to be.

****Rava the Shifter: An arcane terrorist that came to power 10 years ago. A former member of the Grand Council of Mages, he left the council and began his acts of terror across Evryn, most notably liquification of entire populations by napalm to prove a point. His claim was that the Grand Council was corrupt and that Surtnar was being corrupted from the inside out, but no one has ever been able to prove it. He was assassinated the night before he was about to liquify the people of Deka. As his name suggests, he was an expert pyromancer, fluids expert, and shapeshifter.