Myne Anisele had been born there, one of the last children born in the time when people were still hopeful. In the 1970s, the Ashfall Fossil Beds had been full of promise, and the city that had sprung up beside them had attracted all sorts of curious-minded people - to live, to work, to study. The 70s passed, with monumental revelations for archaeology, but it was true that what people had really been hoping for were revelations in the meta-community. A hint of where all these special powers might have come from, what might have happened, how they might have developed. The world had waited with bated breath, but Ashfall had delivered nothing, and the world sighed and moved on to other things. Ashfall City stayed, with the last of the hopeful, making their homes and waiting for a promise to be delivered.
It never was. The apathy set in, and the drugs followed, and the crime followed them. By the early 2000s when Myne’s sister Diara had been born, Ashfall City was already run-down, an entire city of back-alleys and shady dealings. No one left - no one had the money to leave. It had all been poured into the fossils, along with all the hope and dreams of a generation, and the generation that their passions had left behind grew up amidst the squalor. Time claimed the lives of the first generation - time, or drugs, or “accidents.” The children thought it was normal. They didn’t know any better.
Myne had had enough of that. She knew what awaited her city, and she couldn’t let that happen. She couldn’t let it become like Detroit, a grisled bone too picked over for even the dogs of war to take an interest. No, Ashfall had to rise again.
Time had flowed, and she had set her preparations. It was enough. She had set it, and waited, uncertain, but she was tired of waiting. Tired of wondering if she would be the next one to crumble into eternity, just one of a hundred fossils that almost no one knew existed. A name lost, and all its hopes and dreams lost with it. No. Myne Anisele did not know what she would be, but forgotten was not it.
There were some who would never forget her. Myne turned a smile to the little sister who followed her. If all of Ashfall City’s hopes had coalesced into one person, it would be Diara Anisele. She loved everything and everyone, with unadultured simplicity. Sometimes, Myne loved her as well. Other times, she hated her - the child who had been left in her care after their parents had died, who couldn’t even be normal like other children. Hyperactive, no attention span, developmental delays. Parenting her would have been a lot for an adult to handle, with the support of a well-built city with doctors and therapists and counselors and people to help. Ashfall City had none of that. Ashfall City just had Myne, not much more than a child herself, doing the best she could to raise a child she hadn’t even wanted as a sister.
And yet, she couldn’t hate Diara. Not for long. Not even when caring for her took time away from Myne’s studies. No matter what Myne did, Diara loved her anyway. It was hard not to appreciate that. So it was that she learned to incorporate her sister into her studies. To make use of her optimism, her friendliness, her hope. Diara sat in the center of the circle-work, braiding a chain from the plains grass, unaffected by all that was going on around her. For now, anyway… but not for long.
It came to life, in gold and silver. Circles within circles, lines and arcs connecting the whole mass into something larger than she’d ever attempted before - a city of chalk, a ruin of runes. They snapped into place, encircling the fossils half-buried in the soil. At the center, the last circle rose up, twisting itself into a golden chain, falling as a catchment into place around the girl in its center - a collar around her neck, circles at wrists and ankles. The chains spread outward along straight lines, one at each limb, three from the collar around her neck, the angles perfectly spread - the seven-pointed star.
The system anchored itself, and drew its power from Diara’s hope. Ashfall could have been interesting. It could have been fun. It could have been exciting. Myne let it feed, let her sister’s curiosity carry it, hold it, awaken it.
The outer circles stirred, and the fossils started to shift and twist and rise. Bones and ash, and the dust covered them all, rendering them as they had once been. Fantastic beasts, no longer living, extinct for ages - but now they stirred. Now they moved. As one, Ashfall rose, becoming the dream it might have been - or the nightmare.
Myne knelt, and started to write. Inscriptions on cleared stone, symbols that meant nothing to anyone but her and the chalklings she controlled, she wrote their fates and they obeyed. Arisen, they shambled towards the city, a cadre of Miocene-era creatures - barrel-bodied rhinoceroces, beardogs, epicyons - not so much an invation as a liberation, or perhaps a taunt.
In the alleys they found the druggies, the gang members, the scum of humanity. Myne knew all of them - she was no stranger here. They had brought down the city. If Myne were to raise it up again, they could not remain. The creatures of a forgotten era, long-dead, had no caution for the short-lived whims of mankind.
Her horde destroyed them. Most went down quickly, with little time to resist, but in places the gunfire started up, and bullets tore in to the ash-renderings.
The battle was begun. Myne let it rage, safe behind her walls and her circle, writing down the course of history.