After some part-time jobs and chores, 109 earned enough money to board the floating city of Lud. They crossed a small wooden bridge onto the loading platform. The landing plaza of Lud was a large, open stretch of cobblestone where many local vendors had set up rows and rows of tourist trap stalls, selling all sorts of Lud-related memorabilia. The plaza was decorated with paper flags and streamers and banners stretched between branches proclaiming "Happy Departure Festival" and "Departure Day in 3 Days".
Having no more money, 109 ignored the stalls and proceeded into the streets of Lud, marveling at the tall buildings stretched before them and on either side of them. Suddenly, from a low-hanging branch, extended a small hand that snatched up Rad's hat from the top of his head. Above them, a small girl sat, holding the hat and wearing a huge, toothy grin. When rad reached up to take it back, the girl swiftly spun around and began dashing through the branches, moving not unlike a monkey. 109 gave chase on foot.
The girl led the heroes on a chase through the city, winding down streets and alleyways, but never going higher into the trees. Eventually, the girl came to the edge of the city proper. Here, the buildings weren't nearly as tall, and ended suddenly. Between the buildings and the edge of the island itself stretched a good half-mile grove of tall, uniform trees. The girl dropped out of the canopy and to the street in front of this grove, allowing 109 to finally catch up to her and giving Rad his hat back.
The girl led 109 into a nearby alley and into a doorway. Inside was a small, humble workshop filled with scrap metal and other assortments of junk. Behind the counter stood a very large and imposing man.
The girl's name is Gasha, and the man is Gog. As 109 later found out, Gasha and Gog are both chosen of the guardian lore. Gasha is the wood monkey and Gog is the metal cyborg (in more ways than one). Whenever I picture Gasha in my head, I think of a cross between Koala Su from the Love Hina graphic novel series and Ed from Cowboy Bebop. She is young - maybe no more than eight - and very innocent. Her skin is deeply tanned, and she wears short denim shorts with suspenders, and a loose white shirt, with no shoes. Her innocence is matched only by her enthusiasm and energy. Gasha is never fully happy until she is swinging and scampering through the trees. As such, she knows the city of Lud back and front better than anybody else.
Gog is nearly the polar opposite of Gasha. Though he is very gentle and kind, he is slow, steady and lethargic. Being a cyborg, his voice is a combination of a normal human voice and one that sounds like he is talking in a tin can, with a heavy German/Russian accent. He is very smart, and builds many great things with the scrap in his workshop, most impressively - maintaining his own half-mechanical body.
Gog acts as Gasha's guardian, sheltering her and protecting her. They care very deeply for each other; Gasha would do anything to make Gog happy (as Adriana found out) and Gog would do anything to protect Gasha - even to the point of severe self-sacrifice.
Gog told 109 that he found Gasha when she was very young, climbing through the trees aimlessly. He adopted her after he was unable to find her parents, and the two have been together ever since. Gog also explained to 109 that the Alon once attacked Lud, but left some of their technology. When he discovered the tech, he delved into it and discovered that the device he had found was used to track down a signal that apparently only gifted sent out. He was able to tweak the device to instead, block the signal, making Lud a safe-haven for gifted. Ever since, he has been too terrified to even touch the device, for fear that he would cause it to stop working. Since it is advanced Alon technology, even Gog is unable to fully understand it.
He also told 109 that a young man (Tenor) had stopped by to see him a week or so ago. The young man told Gog that 109 would be arriving on Lud before it's departure and that they were gifted too. For years, Gog had used his workshop to house gifted for the duration of the journey, and he planned on doing the same for 109. As repayment for his kindness, Gog only asked one thing of 109: to seek out as many gifted as they could on Lud and extend the invitation.
Almost immediately, 109 found Ruben.
Since they last saw Ruben, he had become even more creepy, going so far as to make a necklace out of random bones he had collected.
On Departure Day, 109 also discovered that Rafal had made it onto the island of Lud. They learned that Ruben and Rafal were also members of the chosen: Rafal being the poison scorpion and Ruben being the bone skeleton. Unfortunately, Rafal wasn't nearly as tame as Ruben, and he even somehow recruited Ruben to his cause: namely, causing 109 trouble. During Lud's grand fireworks display of the festival, 109 and the pair got into a fight that was only ended by Wade blowing up a nearby barrel of fireworks and scaring them away. Of course, it wouldn't be the last we saw them on Lud.
Over the course of the next month or so after Lud began it's journey, 109 began finding more friendly and cooperating gifted.
Byra Sturge is a spunky and eccentric woman covered in very intricate and colorful tattoos of various creatures, including a massive Asian-style dragon on her back. She is able to summon each of the tattoos in the physical form of the creature they represent. Byra was in search of some sort of hidden entrance on Lud that she believed would lead to a secret cavern within the island. She took up 109's offer to stay at Gog's.
Kintaro Roj is an awkward, office-man with a greater sense of justice. Kintaro has the standard super strength and super speed abilities, but most interestingly, he has the ability to see through any substance at any time - but he can't control it. One minute, he's seeing through clothes (leaves nothing to the imagination...) the next, he's seeing through sheer rock and steel. As such, he was able to witness many unscrupulous activities, driving him to don a lame costume and call himself the Seeker, fighting crime at night. 109 helped shape him up and make him a respectable hero. His sworn enemy is Hade Wahx. Due to his ability to see through varying degrees of substances, Kintaro can also occasionally identify other gifted by literally seeing their hidden gifts.
Hade Wahx is Kintaro's arch nemesis. He started as a petty thief, using his ability to phaze his body through any substance to steal valuables under lock and key. He ended up breaking out of jail every time Kintaro caught him (seriously, how would you keep someone who could walk through walls locked up?) and even gained a following of henchmen.
Jake and Corey are twin blond boys, perhaps twelve years of age. They are just like other young boys with active imaginations and adventurous and defiant attitudes. They both have the ability to control and manipulate water. 109 found them showing off their skills to a crowd of people at Lud's lake. In an effort to stop their public display of their powers, 109 agreed to have a water-gun fight with them. The twins took it way too seriously.
Jodi Welsh is a timid and mysterious widow, six months pregnant. She has the ability to control and create fire. 109 found her (with Kintaro's help) and helped her hide from her late husband's debt-collectors. Her husband's dying wish was that their son be born on Lud during the Golden Fall.
Hera Dire is a mysterious young woman with a questionable set of gifts. Like Rad, it's hard to tell if she's gifted at all, but she seems to have extraordinary luck when it comes to poker. Rad ended up dedicating his time to earning her enough money to bail her father out of his gambling debts.
Wade and Adriana started dating. Adriana taught Gasha the value of a dollar, and the greater value of a hug (dawww). Rad learned the value of trust. 109 found an old shack in the woods. Bad men were beaten, good people saved, and many small adventures had.
Then Byra found the secret entrance she was searching for.
Lud played host to the most robust and varied collection of NPCs I've ever created. I came from a world of creating people like Bill Tunder (a boring apartment landlord from Hunter: the Splintering) to making people like Gog and Gasha. Never before have I had such a vivid mental picture of the characters I've created (except maybe for my own character's in other people's RPGs). Of course, it helped that I based most of the characters around a central idea and inspiration.
Gog, Gasha, Ruben and Rafal were created based off of the elements and spirit creatures I had to create (see http://godzilla3092adventures.blogspot.com/2011/02/little-about-guardians.htmlt). Byra is the descendant of Zolo from HFN (I'll get into that next time). Corey and Jake are (very loosely) based on two of my cousins when they were younger. Hera is essentially a female Rad. And Kintaro, Hade and Jodi are based off of inspiration I got from various songs I listened too during their creation.
When I first introduced many of these NPCs, it was for the sole purpose of killing off many of them in the final battle of Lud (I was kind of sadistic, I guess). During the course of Lud, though, I sort of fell in love with them, so that was changed pretty drastically by the end.