Wisdom Has a Price (Year 3025, Day 56)
According to the Lesser God, Enigma, every discovery, every artifact, every secret found, every connection made has a price. And, according to him, Rhahamiir has had to pay her dues. But, not to a person. To herself.
Over the past few weeks, apparently, Rhahamiir has been trying to crack the nut that is the Era of Dragons, about 50,000 years ago. While she reached some measure of success, most things are still veiled in mystery.
Those things that hide, no longer, have caused the Lady of Knowledge to sink into a deep depression. What she discovered were ancient spells, used by, currently, unknown groups and figures. These alien magics had apparently rocked the universe, as we know it, multiple times, during and before the time of the Dragons.
It seems that just as the Uares were breaking free from their own world, the Dragons had barely succeeded in ending a cataclysmic event that had ravaged their society. What this event actually was is still mostly a mystery. And, we're unlikely to learn what it was, until Rhahamiir can find a way out of the darkness that currently holds her mind.
A Thief's Wit(lessness) (Year 3025, Day 51)
Following the creation of the OZF by the Zariahan Twin Kings, administration became of great importance.
Therefore, neither Zariaha, nor their allies, could have seen this coming.
Yesterday, Theif Chain Island amphibious forces made landfall on western Kokura's Rift, in an attempt to take several islands, simultaneously.
While most of this action was successful, a few hours after TCI forces landed, it is assumed that they discovered a weapon from the old world, known to people of the region as "the Giant Warrior".
Most of the following account was witnessed by a West Rift fishing ship, and has been edited slightly to be more coherent, with additional knowledge provided by the Research Facility.
A titanic lifeform rose from the ground, and let out a cry. Upon seeing it, a TCI heavy airship attempted to fire upon it with a Stardrop cannon. The being stumbled backwards, and fired a projectile into the sky. The projectile hit the realm's shell, causing a flash that could be seen from as far away as the Deadlands. Roughly a minute later, the sky began to rain magnetic projectiles, which began ripping open holes in the ground and water, leaving emptiness in its wake. This rain was seen as far east as a few miles offshore from the western Mainland.
The being annihilated the TCI forces, and took to the water; disappearing into the abyss.
OZF and Research Facility operatives are currently searching for the Giant Warrior.
Upon feeling the effects of the warrior's attack, the Origin Islands pushed a request to join the OZF onto the Twin Kings, who accepted.
Sweeping Gains for Zariaha(Year 3025, Day 44)
After Zariaha's masterful show of might at the Battle for the Royal City, the Twin Kings began a larger initiative.
Diplomats in the desert town of Sandscar began negotiations to integrate them into the growing empire, to which the Blue-Blood family responded to by immediately ceding to Zariaha.
On another front, Zariahan diplomats also contacted Agdruzal of Kokura's Rift, seeking an alliance. Due to previous interactions, the two nations were already on the same page as to what Zariaha was planning. Agdruzal was reported to have responded with a toothy grin, and a resounding "yes". This action formed what Zariaha has named the "One-Zeterra Federation".
This is a defining moment for Zeterra, as there has never been a larger recorded act to unite the realm than this.
The Battle for the Royal City(Year 3025, Day 5)
On the fifth of the Year 3025, an event occurred that no one expected, at least, not this early.
Eight days ago, on the 268th, Agdruzalian warships made landfall on the docks of the Royal City, and in the surrounding territory. However, they were met with heavy resistance, due to the city's fortifications, and their weakened military capacity from the Battle of the Graves.
Once the walls and gates finally buckled, the entirety of the Royal Guard's airship battery let loose a bombardment; ravaging the encroaching Demon land forces, and the Royal Guard's own land forces prepared to engage. While this was happening, the various guilds in the city were evacuating the civilians into the outlying areas.
Then, two days into the assault, chaos fell onto the battlefield. Zariahan forces, in all of their might and strength, swarmed over the city, taking most of the emplacements, annihilating their airships with their own, and pushing outwards to the invaders and their warships. They burned the warships to the ground, and continued to hunt down any of the opposing force's soldiers still left on the field and in the surrounding areas.
The death toll for each side is estimated to be(including civilian casualties): Roughly 3,000 for Zariaha, 13,000 for the Royal City, and at least 25,000 for Agdruzalian Kokura's Rift.
The Human King, King Akorius the VI, was given an offer he couldn't refuse: Be assimilated into the Zariahan empire, or be snuffed out under the Twin Kings' boots. He accepted, ordering his remaining forces, which wasn't much, to surrender.
Adding to this sweeping move, the Zariahan ambassador in the Rift, too, gave an offer that they simply couldn't refuse. They were offered peaceful assimilation into the Zariahan empire, as they saw no need for further bloodshed. The Elves and Dwarves were wise to join up, given the display of raw power at the Royal City.
On top of this, the ambassador of Zariaha in the Janni Camp has approved a 3.4 million gold, and 500,000 Mana donation to the Research Facility, in return for advanced effort put into mitigating the radiation; and, a 2.7 million gold gift to the Janni Camp, for expansion efforts.
It's plain to see where the balance of power is shifting to. We can only hope fewer lives will be lost in the future.
Regarding the previous battle, the Battle of the Graves, the total death toll is estimated to be around 70,000, with only a small handful who survived the bombardment.
The Battle of the Graves(Year 3024, Day 255)
A few months ago, at least 100 suicides, and over 500 disappearances occurred, all within a three day span. All of these cases were Demon citizens of nations near the now-collapsed cavern. And, just yesterday, we've acquired where the vanished Demons went. They all flocked to a temple, located in the middle of the Deep East region of the Westerlands.
And, unfortunately, yesterday, a vicious battle broke out between the Royal Guard and Agdruzalian Demon forces stationed in the Kotanian Jungle, to the south. The battle disturbed the nearby temple. And, as a direct result, roughly 35 ancient Astrilothian Skril' Demons awoke from their slumber, and descended upon the armies. The commotion, additionally, caught the attention of Zariahan forces to the north, and Dwarven and Elven siege units to the southeast.
While the Royal Guard were quick to retreat, to nurse their wounds, the Demons either chose not to leave, or could not leave, and were subject to the full onslaught of Zariahan and Dwarven-Elven Coalition forces.
Amidst the struggle, two God-like entities awoke. A giant golden statue of Skril' Astriloth, and a mysterious black knight, assumed to be a previously deceased Tower Knight.
The animated statue began ripping the armies apart, while the knight began assaulting the statue. And, to bring this from bad to worse, an unknown party unleashed a series of 36 Sypernova spells onto the battlefield, tearing the land apart, and finishing it off with series of 4 Hypernova spells.
Following this event, the Mage's Colony and the Research Facility have been working in tandem to mitigate the fallout, and get people safely away from the site.
A common thought going through the team's members is a resounding "What the hell just happened?"
Devastating Explosion Rocks the Mainland, Cavern Collapses(Year 3024, Day 237)
A few months after the startling discovery of the caverns beneath the Mainland, disaster has struck. An explosion, assumed to be on the eastern side of the Westerlands, just west of Silverwood Village, triggered the entire cavern to collapse.
Recovery teams and researchers have yet to approach the region, so a death toll hasn't been collected, yet. However, it is assumed that the collapse took Silverwood Village, Iron Town, and the northern reaches of Sandscar. Although, full surveys haven't been completed, yet.
The Royal City, the closest to the action, other than the aforementioned locations, has survived, thanks to the efforts of Rift Elves and Dwarves, as well as Sandscarian and Zariahan construction crews.
We'll keep you updated on the situation, as always.
Exodus of Mages(Year 3024, Day 145)
Following the events described in the Murderous Mages news story, a large quantity of the members of the Magic Council have resigned. The current list is as follows:
Ourus, previously the Council of the Mainland.
Kril' Kirikumara, previously the Council of the Northern Territories.
O' Akka, previously the Council of the Wintergreen Isles.
Bandit Lord Feirlan, previously the Council of the Theif Chain Islands.
Epitar, previously the Council of the Origin Islands.
Rissam, previously the Council of the Research Facility.
This only leaves a couple high-ranking members in the Council, including its Chairwoman, the Grand Magus Laren. Laren has given us a few comments on the current situation, per our request.
Laren - "While I feel saddened that the Council I once knew has been thrown into chaos, I cannot help but feel happy for those who left. I think they made the right decision."
And, as for what she thinks about the recent murder, she had this to say.
Laren - "I have no idea, currently, who committed the murder. I was about to investigate, myself, but, one of my closest friends in the Council beat me to the punch. Omnari had gathered a group of her most accomplished students, and had begun investigating. I have no doubt that the murder has something to do with the current conflict. The tense relations in the Mainland and Kokura's Rift is a sign for worry."
These unfortunate circumstances could throw multiple organizations into chaos, as well, given that the Mage's Council was typically seen as a unifying force. That was, before the chaos arose. We'll keep the people posted, as more information is discovered.
Murderous Mages(Year 3024, Day 140)
Last night, a prestigious member of the Mage's Council was murdered. Jskroth'Leh-Ko-Mura, the Chairman of Kokura's Rift, was murdered in his sleep by an unknown assailant. Following this event, Chairwoman of the Deadlands, Omnari, and her younger sister, Aviri, Chairwoman of the Mage's Colony, resigned from their positions on the council, however, they'll still be functioning to manage their respective Colonies. These events have sparked an investigation of all members and previous members of the Council. We're expecting results for this within the next few weeks.
"Disaster Waiting to Happen"(Year 3024, Day 136)
Mere weeks after the destruction of Royal Guardsmen stationed at the Janni Camp, the Research Facility has discovered some potentially terrifying data. During one of their routine ecosystem check-ups, which are done every two months, the set of researchers discovered that the ground in the middle of the Westerlands was disturbingly thin, and has even cracked in some places.
It's known to most well-educated researchers and mages, however, to the average person, they've remained blissfully unaware. The ground, in some places, is only a few meters thick. And, in some places, it's even less.
What's so bad about that? About 75% of the Westerlands sits above a massive cavern system, called the Rockroach Caverns. Dug out by the Rockroaches, this cavern is as tall as 30 meters, in some places. If the ground were to open up, it would no doubt cause a chain collapse, bringing most of the Westerlands with it.
The researchers blame the sudden danger on two, recent, large-scale explosions, and mere passage of time.
Until the collapse has occurred, the Research Facility has advised anyone they see to avoid the central and eastern Westerlands, southern Zariaha and northern Sandscar, simply for your own safety.
The Massacre at Crest(Year 3024, Day 133)
Yesterday evening, in the Dracokin city of Crest, a bloody massacre occurred. 20,000 estimated deaths, a high priest, and 14 lesser priests.
The perpetrators of the event were three Drekk, who were able to succeed due to an apparent resistance to Dragonfire.
Rumors are currently spreading regarding their motives. One major rumor is that Schalos is inflicting judgement on the city. Whether this is true or not is up for debate. However, this uproar has caused many Dracokin and Crest citizens to think that the priesthood are a collective of deceivers. Crest, and perhaps the Dracokin as a whole, are expected to fall into a civil war.
Royal Blasphemy?(Year 3024, Day 120)
After tense relations between the Humans of the Royal City and the Elves and Dwarves of the Rift, the silence was broken. Not by war, but by a reminder. The Royal Guard attempted to place a set of three companies in the Janni Camp, who were slaughtered mercilessly by Yzaar-Dramae's Grand Angels.
No one is sure what this will make the following conflicts into, however, a line has been drawn in the sand: the Janni Camp is neutral ground. it appears that Dramae hasn't forgotten the Edict of Neutrality, yet the mortal powers have.
In the now silent library, in the dead of night, Zephyz remains, taking care of Schakkus' weak form. His condition could hardly be called better, but, at the very least, the bleeding had stopped. Constantly using her Healing magic had drained her to the point of exhaustion. Still in shock over what Siskar had managed to do, tear tracks were still visible on her face. Through the silence, she heard footsteps, coming towards the library. As they stopped, the light from the single lamp illuminated her visitors. Reyial and Harral.
Harral - "Jeez, woman. Do you ever sleep?"
She snapped at him, "I'm taking care of Schakkus!"
Harral - "Calm down. I'm joking."
She looked back at Schakkus.
Harral pulled up a pair of chairs, handing one to Reyial. He sat across from her. Reyial sat next to her.
Harral - "Is he any better, at least?"
Reyial - "Harral, like was said earlier, the damage is deeper than it looks. He tore at Schakkus' soul. Damage that isn't easily repaired."
Harral - "You know what I meant."
Zephyz - "I... Don't know how to repair souls."
Reyial - "It isn't as simple as repairing them. Siskar probably voraciously devoured the bits of Schakkus' soul that broke off, knowing him."
Harral - "I still can't stand it."
Reyial - "That makes, at least, two of us."
While they were talking, Schakkus' body began to move. His one good eye finally refocused, and fully opened. He tried to sit up, but Zephyz held him down.
Zephyz - "Schakkus, don't get up."
He tried to respond, but all that came out was a weak cough. He stopped resisting and let out a sigh.
Reyial - "Well, that's progress of a kind."
The crystal around Zephyz' neck began glowing. An echoey voice emanated from it.
Medasz - "Jeez, Zephyz. You're still awake? You need to sleep."
Zephyz - "I can't just leave Schakkus alone, like this."
Schakkus' red eye looked at her. She looked back, finding it hard to hide her pity.
Harral - "Hey, Medasz. Know anything about souls?"
Medasz - "Before you ask, I don't know how to repair them."
Reyial turned to Harral, "I know how to repair them. But, we don't have that kind of time. It's not a simple process, Harral."
Harral - "So, you're telling me you can't just "magic" up pieces of a soul?"
Reyial looked at him, somewhat offended.
Reyial - "I don't even know what parts were broken off. And, just by looking at him, it was a lot."
Harral - "How do you tell?"
Reyial - "Look upon him, Harral. He lacks the energy to speak. If he moves, he'll overwork himself. That means that a significant part of his soul is gone. That's how Gods of our calibur die. They become weakened enough, to the point they can no longer maintain such an old body. And, it just gives up."
Zephyz shivered when he said that. Suddenly, the Gods heard a presence moving about behind the couch that Schakkus lay upon. A figure jumped up behind Zephyz, and yelled "Ooogah booogah!"
Zephyz jumped forward, hitting a table and keeled over in pain. As the figure rolled about on the floor, laughing, it became obvious who it was. Enigma.
Harral - "Ten points for team Enigma."
Reyial - "What are you doing here, this late?"
Enigma - "Visiting a good friend."
He pointed to Schakkus.
Enigma - "I brought him a "get well, soon" gift."
He held out a bag to Harral and Reyial. Harral took it, and opened it. Inside was a magically sealed cube.
Engima - "I wouldn't suggest opening it, unless you know what you're doing."
Harral - "What's in it?"
Enigma - "You'll just have to find out."
Reyial motioned to Harral. He handed over the cube. He got up and walked over to Schakkus. He held the cube above him, and unsealed it. A small nearly-invisible object fell from it, and hit him. It seemed to hit him incredibly hard, as he gasped in pain. As he held his chest, Zephyz hobbled over and started casting a healing spell. After she began healing him, Enigma showed himself out. Reyial looked at him, as he passed, seeing a smirk on Enigma's face. Schakkus groaned, his voice still raspy, and mixing with his void-distorted voice, made him sound terrifying. He looked up at Zephyz, and tried to speak, but all that came out was a bloody cough, splattering her with purple fluid.
Harral - "I'm heading to sleep. Zephyz..."
Zephyz - "What d'you want?"
Harral stood up, and began walking. "Take care of him."
Reyial stood, hugged Zephyz, and left, as well. Zephyz sat there, by Schakkus' side, through the night. After hours of tending to the horribly weakened Schakkus, she began to drift into the abyss of sleep.
The next morning...
??? - "Zephyz, wake up. Wake up, Zephyz!"
Zephyz stirred from her sleep, awakened by Dramae.
Zephyz - "...Oh. G'morning, Dramae. What time is it?"
Dramae - "It's midday. There's something you need to see."
It was at that moment that Zephyz realized Schakkus was no longer next to her. Dramae helped her up and led her into the station of awakening. Schakkus was sitting on one of the benches, basking in the warm light of the station. He still looked rough, but not nearly as bad. Zephyz couldn't help it. She ran to him, and hugged him. Schakkus responded, still sounding a bit weak.
Schakkus - "Easy, girl, easy. I'm not as young as I used to be."
She smiled at him.
Zephyz - "So, what happened? How are you-"
Dramae - "Enigma's partly responsible. With Ashura's help, they retrieved as many shards of Schakkus' Soul as they could. The rest was your doing."
Zephyz - "But, it looked like I was having no luck..."
Schakkus - "Hardly, Zephyz. It was helping. But, I was still in too much pain to talk."
Zephyz squeezed him. He recoiled, at first, but afterwards, he caved, and reciprocated. Eschaviron entered, as well as Saul. Eschaviron placed his rough pitch black hand on Dramae's shoulder. "So... Dramae. I'm sure you know what I'm about to ask."
Dramae - "No, I don't have a plan of action."
Saul - "Unfortunate. A battle plan is of vital importance. If my fellow Arbiter cannot or will not create a plan, I will craft one, myself."
Eschaviron - "Maybe we can get that slimy, disgusting beast-man, Siskar, to help us rip the Voids a new one."
Zephyz - "I refuse to fight on the same battlefield as Siskar."
Dramae - "He's a disgusting God. But, he's powerful. That's the only reason I haven't banished him. He's a valuable weapon. But, that's all."
Saul - "Dramae, prepare your realm charts, gather the Gods. We are making battle plans."
Dramae - "Saul, look-"
As he begins to address him, Saul walks out, clearly ignoring him. Dramae sighs.
Schakkus - "Dramae, I'm joining you. I have information that may prove highly useful."
Dramae - "Well, I guess I'm in no position to argue."
The group of Gods leave, and head into the war room.
The Storm Grows Nearer, the Wind Grows Colder
As she wandered through the winding passages, she heard familiar voices. It was the other Gods. There was some sort of conflict. As she walked on, the voices became clearer...
??? - "...You caused this... Because of you, he's dead. We never should have trusted you."
Schakkus - "I didn't think he would be killed..."
There was a long pause.
??? - "You thought wrong."
A horrifying scream echoed through the corridor. Zephyz began running.
??? - "You simply don't understand. We've lost... Countless family members... friends... And allies in the wake of this war. This is not a game. You're just as bad as the rest of them."
Another scream echoed. Zephyz ran on and on, until she met a dead end.
Zephyz - "I don't have... TIME FOR THIS!"
Her arm changed into its demon counterpart, and she broke the wall down. It lead into the main hall of the Golden Palace. Schakkus sat against the wall, holding what was left of his arm, which wasn't much. The room was covered with blood. A tall white figure stood in the middle of the room. She looked at the figure.
Zephyz - "...Dramae...?"
The figure turned.
??? - "Dramae is in the study. Get moving. Now."
Zephyz - "Not until you tell me who you are, and why you're doing this to Schakkus!"
Siskar - "I am Siskar, Ancient of the Primeval Skies. Schakkus has betrayed us. Honestly, he's getting off easy. I should have tortured him more."
Zephyz - "You will stop this at once!"
Siskar - "Says who? You? You have no authority over me. Keep in mind that I've been fighting on everyone's behalf out in the field. Give me the respect I deserve."
Zephyz - "No ally of mine would do this!"
Siskar - "Would you revoke your alliance with me, then?"
Zephyz - "I can't be friends with a monster like you."
Siskar - "Go. Speak with Dramae. Before I turn my rage on you, instead."
Zephyz stormed off into the library. Everyone was quiet, except for Dramae, Harral and Raptoris. Reyial was sleeping, curled up in a chair, wrapped in a blanket, his head resting on Rhahamiir's lap, who was sitting next to him. Enigma was in the corner, staring out the window into the Void. Mora was seated next to Harral, but remained silent.
Harral - "...I don't think it was Schakkus' fault. He was trying to get Zephyz to awaken her inner strength."
Dramae slammed his fists on the table.
Dramae - "And, it cost us the life of one of our closest friends, Harral!"
Raptoris - "Please... Keep it civil... For Medasz' sake."
Enigma, from the corner, spoke.
Enigma - "Raptoris, shut up. Seriously. Medasz is dead. He doesn't care if we argue. Get it through your head."
Dramae - "We've lost another powerful Soul to the Void. And all because of this SNAKE!"
Reyial moved uneasy in his sleep and began breathing uneasily. Rhahamiir pulled him closer. Zephyz stepped into view of the others from behind a bookcase. Harral was the first to notice her.
Harral - "Look who's back."
Dramae immediately got up.
Dramae - "Zephyz!"
He ran over to her. Raptoris lowered his head.
Dramae - "Are you alright? Where've you been? And, most importantly... HOW ARE YOU ALIVE?!"
Zephyz - "Dramae, calm down... I'd rather not talk in front of everyone else... Let's go to your room."
Dramae - "...Alright. We'll be back, in a little while."
Harral waved to them. The two of them walked down the hall in total silence. Zephyz was constantly looking away from Dramae. Once they reached his door, he opened it and motioned for her to enter. She stepped inside and he followed shortly after. He closed the door. He barely got a chance to turn around before she embraced him. Surprised, he recoiled, but soon put his arms around her. He spoke quietly.
Dramae - "Zephyz, tell me what happened..."
Zephyz - "...I lost control, Dramae... I messed up..."
Dramae - "...I'm listening..."
Zephyz - "... I heard a voice in my head... At first, I thought it was that Demon General that had control of me... But, now I realize it wasn't... It was Astriloth. He allowed me to channel his strength... I destroyed the Voids... But, I got caught in the Blackhole I cast on them..."
Dramae - "How is it you're still alive?"
Zephyz - "It's because of... Someone I never thought I'd hear... Let alone see..."
Dramae - "Who?"
Zephyz - "...Brura-Nol..."
Dramae lifed himself away from her and looked into her eyes.
Dramae - "You're serious?"
She solemnly nodded.
Dramae - "I don't know what to say..."
A disembodied voice spoke up...
??? - "Believe her. I was there, too."
Dramae perked up at hearing the voice. He recognized it. It was Medasz' voice. He began looking around, attempting to locate the disembodied voice.
Dramae - "Medasz?! What-"
Medasz - "Dramae, it's me... Well, not the me you know."
A crystal flew out of Zephyz' pocket, hovering in front of Dramae's face.
Dramae - "What happened to you?"
At that moment, Harral decided it was time to get in on the fun. He stood up and began walking out.
Raptoris -"...Harral... It's not polite to spy."
Harral - "It's only impolite if I get caught. You never saw me leave, right?"
Raptoris sighed. Harral quickly left the room by slipping into the shadows.
Raptoris - "Anyone have any idea where Harral went?"
Mora - "No clue. Probably got hungry or something."
There were a few chuckles before everyone realized that Medasz wasn't doing the cooking, anymore. Harral materialized just outside Dramae's room and began listening.
Medasz - "Yeah. After the whole ordeal with meeting Brura, they came to the Spirit Tree I was in. Brura cast some sort of spell, and he gave me a new body in this crystal."
Dramae - "...That's quite the tale..."
Zephyz - "I'm sure Rhahamiir would be interested in hearing it, as well. Maybe I'm just assuming, but it seems like a lot of the Ancients we know, knew each other when they were young."
Dramae - "It's worth our time to tell everyone. Keeping everyone on the same page, and all that."
Dramae began to walk out, when Zephyz embraced him from behind.
Zephyz - "Brura-Nol... He can't be that mad, if he saved us... Right...?"
Dramae - "...I wish I knew."
Harral escaped into the shadows, just before the two of them exited his room. They walked down the hall, back into the library. As they entered, the group welcomed them back, but Harral was noticeably missing.
Dramae - "Well, we've returned. Zephyz has a story to tell everyone."
Zephyz - "Where's Harral?"
Harral, at that moment, materialized behind a bookcase, out of view and poked his head out.
Harral - "Someone say my name?"
Raptoris and Mora chuckled.
Dramae - "We're all accounted for. Let the storytelling session begin."
Over the course of about an hour, Zephyz described the events of the past days in as great of detail as she could. Medasz periodically interrupted, giving the exceptionally emotional Zephyz a break.
Harral - "Well, damn. You should write a book."
Dramae - "Too soon, Harral. Too soon."
Harral shrugged, "Don't bash me for trying."
During the story, from the moment that Brura-Nol was mentioned, Rhahamiir spent the rest of the time staring at a glass of water on the table in front of her.
Enigma - "So, when do we get to blow them up?"
Ashura - "I agree! I wanna give 'em hell."
Raptoris - "How about both of you calm down, before you find my fists in your faces. This is not the time to be discussing war."
At that moment, the air in the room started feeling heavier. Siskar had appeared behind Raptoris.
Siskar - "How appropriate. Raptoris doesn't want to fight. He doesn't want to fight the worthless husks that destroyed one of his closest friend's body. He doesn't want to kill the ones who brought the Known Worlds to their knees."
Siskar spoke slowly, now, "...He doesn't want to make them pay for what they're doing. Raptoris seems okay with the end of the known universe."
Raptoris swung his fist about, which passed through Siskar. Siskar smirked and shook his head.
Siskar - "Isn't very often you lose your cool, is it, Raptoris?"
Raptoris stared at him, hatefully.
Siskar - "Enigma and Ashura have the right idea. It's time to kick Amndra off of his high horse. He needs to learn when to give up."
Rhahamiir fired a black bolt of magic at Siskar's head. He trivially dodged it and raised a brow.
Rhahamiir - "That's about enough out of you. Go torture someone, or something. Have you no sense of emotion?"
Siskar - "Hardly. But, I thought you knew that, after living for nearly 15,000 years. Eventually, it all blends together."
Rhahamiir - "I think you need to leave, Siskar."
Siskar - "Oh?"
Harral - "Would you cosmic peasants quit arguing?"
Siskar looked at Harral, clearly offended. Rhahamiir, equally surprised, but not nearly as offended, looked to him, as well. Harral pointed to the necklace around Zephyz' neck.
Harral - "You see that? That's what Medasz is, now. Why is he like that? Because his body was destroyed. By the Voids. Our enemy. Do you know what I do to my enemies? I stamp them out. You can all argue about trivial, pointless talking points all you'd like, but I know my first stop. I'm checking with our ally: Schakkus. He's pointing me to where I can find Amndra. Then, I'm going to make him bleed his disgusting insides all over the floor. And, then? I'm going for a drink. Because that's the only sensible course of action. Is anyone coming with me, or am I violating Amndra's privacy alone?"
Rhahamiir - "Point taken. I'm go-"
Raptoris - "No, you're not. I can tell you and Amndra have a past. I can't let that get in the way of you dealing a killing blow. Besides, we need you here, defending your library."
At first upset, Rhahamiir's expression changed.
Rhahamiir - "Okay. I'll stay here."
Raptoris - "Dramae and Rhahamiir will stay here. Enigma, Ashura, you're both too weak to head out on the offensive."
Ashura - "Excuse me?"
Raptoris - "We're fighting an Ancient that's on par with the local governing bodies. And, you think you'll stand a chance? Don't make me laugh."
Zephyz - "Medasz and I are going."
Medasz - "Hell yeah! I'm gunna make them suffer for this sorry state I'm in. And, that starts with punching Amndra directly in the face."
Harral - "Well, if anything, at least he's motivated."
A few of the Gods chuckled. Reyial cracked his eyes open.
Reyial - "I'm going, too. I'm not letting anyone else get maimed by them. That's a promise."
Enigma - "Reyial, you need to be awake to do that."
By the time Enigma had finished talking, Reyial was already asleep again.
Enigma - "DON'T FALL ASLEEP WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU! IT'S INCREDIBLY RUDE, IMMATURE, AND OVERALL NOT VERY NICE."
Zephyz - "And, yelling is?"
Enigma - "I'M A COMPLICATED MAN, ALRIGHT!?"
Siskar - "So, when's the whole thing starting? Can I get a bite to eat, first?"
Harral - "Siskar, you're the last person in the room I'd like to have cracking jokes. You've just tortured Schakkus, and you've started an argument with two people about how they're conducting themselves. You hardly have a leg to stand on."
Siskar - "Big talk."
Dramae - "Siskar, it's about time for you to leave and prepare yourself. The Void isn't a place that's safe to travel in without preparations."
Siskar - "I suppose you have a point, Dramae. I'll see you all, later."
Siskar dissipated into the air.
Ashura - "I kinda really wanna stab him."
Enigma - "That makes two of us."
Dramae - "You can fantasize, later. I want you two helping me to keep the realm in order while the rest are away."
Enigma - "Fine. Don't expect me to do anything, though."
Dramae - "That's exactly what I'm expecting."
Enigma - "What's that supposed to mean?"
Rhahamiir looked up, at the doorway, to see Eschaviron helping Schakkus enter the room. Schakkus wasn't looking good. One side of his face was unrecognizable, the other was covered in cuts. One of his arms was hanging limply, and the other was trying its best to grip Eschaviron's steady form. His legs were non-functional, dragging on the floor. His breathing had been reduced to quiet wheezing. As soon as Rhahamiir saw him, Reyial woke up. He sat up and pulled her close. Zephyz and Mora walked over to him. They both grabbed him and brought him to the couch.
Eschaviron - "Schakkus won't be able to join us for the battle."
Dramae - "Why? Other than his current state."
Eschaviron - "Apparently, the wounds don't just go flesh deep."
Enigma gulped, audibly.
Ashura - "I know what Eschaviron means. Look into his good eye."
Schakkus' eye was unfocused, even with Mora and Zephyz healing his wounds. His eye betrayed that what little emotion he had had before was dwindling even closer to oblivion.
Ashura - "Siskar damaged his Soul with the assault. He wasn't torturing him. He was killing him, however long it would take."
Raptoris - "Is Siskar really our ally?"
Harral - "That's a useless question."
Raptoris - "Say what?"
Harral - "He's reprehensible. That much is undeniable. But, he's far beyond power. And, his ability to be heartless makes him invariably strong. The fact that he hasn't killed us, and has shown a great dislike for the Voids is our only solace."
Mora - "I don't like it as much as anyone, but I can acknowledge that he's invaluable."
Dramae - "I can only hope he doesn't betray you, out there."
Harral looked into Dramae's eyes, "You and I, both, Dramae. You and I, both."
Damnation of the Mind
??? - "Quite the mess you've gotten into, eh, Zephyz? Still causing trouble?"
The voice was barely audible, but its words were as clear as crystal. She hadn't heard this voice before.
??? - "Looks like your little friend died. How sad. I could try to resurrect him..."
Her attention was now acutely focused.
??? - "...On second thought, maybe that's not a good idea. After a run-in with a Vellusian prince and his ex-lover impaled on a lamppost, long story, I find it a bit of a daunting request. Or did you request it? Bah. Details, details."
Her voice was weak and sickly.
Zephyz - "Who... Are you?"
??? - "My dearest! Old friend! My homicidally insane ex-student in-law! You mean to tell me that you've forgotten me, already? It's only been a few... Okay, more than a few... Thousand years."
Zephyz - "The question still stands..."
??? - "My dear girl... I am he who watches. I watch it all. I am the one who commentates... To an entertaining degree. I am one with your confusion, my child! I am your confusion! I am the being that laughs at a force, not out of spite, but out of amusement! Those who stand to me will suffer damnation of the mind! For no real reason, to be honest."
Zephyz - "Stop beating around the bush!"
Raising her voice caused her to cough violently.
??? - "Easy, girl, easy! You wouldn't want to lose this once-in-a-few-minute-span chance to meet the one... The only..."
There was a long pause.
Zephyz - "Uhm..."
??? - "Damnit. My audience is useless."
Suddenly, the darkness surrounding her lifted. She was lying on a decorative couch, with a man in green and grey suit and a torn-up yellow top hat, sitting on a decorative dining chair. The two were on a stage, with millions of theater seats sprawling in many directions, most of which were filled with exact copies of the man. The man put a pipe in his mouth, from which a puff of smoke shaped like a hand formed. The hand lifted Zephyz up and sat her upright. Medasz' body lay upon the stage before them, with all of the spotlights focused on it.
Zephyz - "Medasz!"
The man stood up, the smoke hand still holding Zephyz to the couch.
??? - "Easy, my girl! In time!"
The man began pacing the stage. The spotlights were now on him. He quickly spun about and pointed his ornamental cane at Zephyz.
??? - "Tell me! Did you know a man named Des Scarlan?"
Zephyz just stared blankly, making it obvious that she didn't know him. The man began pacing again.
??? - "Mr. Scarlan was a ruling force on the world known as Wintergreen. Particularly, he was the Chairman of Magical Armaments on the continent of Kamara. Your homeland. He once paid a visit to your town. It's highly likely that you never paid him any mind. Mr. Scarlan was also part of an organization called the Ambassadors of Change. A global attempt to both unite the world and to bring about a complete shift in the political and social climates."
The man turned to her.
??? - "My organization. All of their members were devout followers of me, myself and I."
Zephyz - "Please, just get to the point."
??? - "Well, since you survived a Blackhole after annihilating a Void seedling, I'd say you deserve some words."
She seemed uneasy as he walked closer and leaned over in front of her. He stood up straight, cleared his throat and tipped his cap.
Brura-Nol - "Brura-Nol, Master of Madness, Connoisseur of Confusion, Inoculator of Insanity, Lord of Lunacy... At your service."
The smoke hand holding her down released her. She looked about the theater.
Zephyz - "What's all this about, then?"
Brura-Nol - "This is the Theater of Thammartus, named after the Uares warlord who led the charge against the homeworld of the Dragons. No, I didn't name it."
One of the copies of Brura jumped up from his seat.
Brura-Nol - "He did. Sir Brura-Nol, the 981004th, the 9th."
Zephyz - "Your naming conventions confuse me."
Brura-Nol - "They're actually quite easy to follow. We tell you where the convention is happening on the 98th day of each year. Once there, we hand out names like candy. Literally! You can reach into the bucket we have at the front desk, speak with our lovely receptionist, Mrs. Brura-Nol the 19th-and-3/4, and voila! You've got yourself a name!"
Zephyz - "That's not... Nevermind. I understand we're in the Theater of Thammartus, but, where in the cosmos are we?"
Brura-Nol - "Pretty close to where I found you! Well, close is relative. Close as in the Surface. This plane of existence. In that sense, everything's close by!"
Zephyz just stared at Brura.
Brura-Nol - "Oh, you're no fun. Fine. We're about 7 1/2 Spatial Lengths away from the Final Rest."
Zephyz immediately clung to herself.
Zephyz - "How are we still alive?! I thought you could only get this close in your subconscious mind!"
Brura held out his arms.
Brura-Nol - "C'mon, who am I, again? I'm the spice of life! Normal physical laws don't apply very well when you have access to what I do! Stahlmite is just down the street! Well, cosmologically speaking. It's parked at about 3 3/4 Spatial Lengths. If you think this place is strange, why don't you go down there!"
Zephyz - "I can't believe it..."
Brura-Nol - "But, you can, can't you? We're here, after all. I couldn't just let you die, after all the entertainment you've brought me. And, more importantly, my audience!"
He turned to the audience comprised of his clones, and they cheered.
Zephyz - "Wait, do you know Amndra?"
Brura-Nol - "Ahh, yes. Good ol' Amny. Had the pleasure of talking over tea with him, once or twice. He only lives down the street, after all. Plus, we grew up, together!"
Zephyz - "Wait... WHAT!?"
Brura-Nol - "M'yes... Indeed. I was one of the slaves that served his family, but, we've worked out our differences!"
Zephyz - "He's been throwing the cosmos into uproar! Why didn't you stop him!?"
Brura-Nol - "Look, I don't like thinking logically. But, if he and I were to do the dance of destruction, we'd have more than just a little insecure researcher on our hands. You're too young to understand the implications. It'll come with age. Or death. Whichever is first."
Zephyz, trying to make sense of it all, began holding her head in confusion.
Brura-Nol - "Walk with me, let's talk."
As they began walking off-stage, they fell through the floor, as if it were water. The water was murky, and cold. Zephyz felt a time-worn hand grab hers and she held onto it. The hand led her out of a waterfall in a park fountain.
Brura-Nol - "Welcome to Bruranall, a world of my own creation."
Zephyz - "Wonderfully creative name, I must say."
Brura-Nol - "Isn't it? Come now, there's something I want to show you."
He led her through the park. All of the trees were oddly shaped. As they walked, they passed more clones of Brura. They nodded to the clones and kept walking. They passed a small pond, where a few ducks were floating about. All of them had Brura-Nol's face, and their quacks closely resembled his voice's tone. They approached a tree. The tree was unlike the others. It was absolutely massive, so massive that it had grown over some nearby buildings. The tree was also glowing, so it was hard to miss. The other noticeable aspect was that everything and everyone was avoiding it. As they approached, Zephyz turned to Brura-Nol.
Zephyz - "What is this tree? Something's different about it."
Brura-Nol - "Ahh. Just as naturally inclined as I remember. You're right. This isn't just a tree. Not even a special tree. This is a tree of purity. Such purity is only fitting for the deceased."
Zephyz - "Wait, this is a Spirit Tree?! Where did you find it!?"
Brura-Nol - "Does it matter? After all, I've led you to your friend."
Zephyz' eyes gave away her surprise.
Brura-Nol - "Be careful, though. It's intense in there, little girl."
She stepped closer and put her hands to the bark of the tree and closed her eyes. When she did, she heard countless voices. Most of which were indistinguishable from each other. They were all yelling, screaming and crying to be remembered. It seemed as though most of them had been dead for a very long time. Among the screams of sorrow, one voice caught her attention. One whose voice was soft and calm, although clearly disheartened. It was Medasz. She spoke to the tree.
Zephyz - "Medasz, can you hear me?"
At first, his voice was muffled, but it soon came to the surface.
Medasz - "...Zephyz... I-"
Zephyz - "I'm sorry I let this happen to you..."
Medasz - "Zephyz... Don't apologize."
Zephyz - "Why not? I... Couldn't save you..."
Brura-Nol sighed and materialized a cup of tea, a table and a chair and began sipping it while sitting down. Zephyz was in tears.
Medasz - "It was my fault. I shouldn't have been defeated so easily. We can't change our fates, you know. You're obviously still needed, if you aren't dead, yet."
Zephyz - "I can't let this be true..."
Medasz - "What did I just say? You can't change what is already so! Why won't you listen to me?"
Zephyz - "Fate isn't so inflexible!"
Brura spoke up.
Brura-Nol - "She has a point, Mr. Ghostie."
He stood up.
Brura-Nol - "Especially in my line of work."
Zephyz - "Wait, what are you saying? Can you bring him back?"
Brura-Nol - "Well..."
Zephyz - "TELL ME!"
Brura held his hand in front of her face.
Brura-Nol - "Not exactly. He'll never live as his old self again. He'll never get the chance."
Zephyz - "...So... It's hopeless...?"
Brura-Nol - "Jeez, you like assuming things, don't you?"
Zephyz - "Just GET TO THE POINT!"
Brura-Nol - "In due time. First, I want to speak with him."
He stepped close to the tree, and touched it with one hand.
Brura-Nol - "What I haven't yet said is that you can technically live again. As something else. You'll never have your old body back. It's too damaged to host a Soul. I can give you a new lease at life, in a different form. With it, you must be careful. You'll no longer be able to extend your existence with your Mana, because you have no way to generate it. You must depend on other sources."
Zephyz - "He can use mine."
Medasz - "No way, Zephyz. There is no way that I'm using you as a power source."
Zephyz - "It won't be that bad! I can handle it!"
Medasz - "It'd put you at risk!"
Zephyz - "SHUT UP!"
Medasz went quiet at that point.
Zephyz - "I'm not losing one of my oldest friends! Not yet!"
Brura-Nol - "I wouldn't make her angry, Medz."
Medasz - "My name is Medasz, and I know. I don't want to argue anymore. Brura-Nol, what form can you give me?"
Brura-Nol - "For the sake of preserving you in the safest way possible, you'd take on the form of a crystal. You'd have the ability to move yourself through levitation, and you could also project your voice, and MAYBE use Magic, if you wanted to risk it."
Medasz - "I'll take it."
Brura-Nol - "Alright then. Brace yourself... This'll hurt... A lot."
Zephyz backed away from the tree. Brura-Nol stepped back and cast a spell. Black hands shot out from his back, and grabbed the tree. They peeled the bark off, and retrieved an invisible object from its interior. Brura then summoned forth a small blue-green crystal, into which the hands forced the object into. Halfway through the process, a scream began echoing from the crystal. It was Medasz'.
Zephyz - "Medasz!"
One of the hands motioned to her to wait a moment.
Brura-Nol - "No touchy."
After a moment more, the screaming stopped and distressed breathing could be heard.
Zephyz - "Medasz, can you hear me?"
Between the breaths, Medasz muttered a "Yeah."
Brura-Nol - "It'll take him a while to get used to it. He doesn't yet realize that breathing isn't necessary."
Brura gave Zephyz the crystal, which she immediately embraced.
Brura-Nol - "Y'see, I'd love to watch the Waterworks Part II, but I think it's about time for you to go home."
A pair of hands from Brura's back ripped open a rift.
Brura-Nol - "Oh, and when you get back, tell Rhahamiir that "Yega still remembers". She'll know what it means."
Zephyz nodded and quickly left. Brura sighed and fell backwards, and the hands caught him. He lazily leaned on them.
Brura-Nol - "Well, the show must go on!"
Brura disappeared into a puff of sparkles and smoke.
No Safety in Numbers
While the recent diplomacy still rests in their minds, the Gods go about their usual tasks in the Golden Palace. In the main hall, there's a commotion, although there almost always is.
Enigma - "Hey, have you seen Dramae about, anywhere?"
Ashura - "Come to think of it, I haven't seen him either."
Zephyz - "I haven't seen Raptoris, either. They're probably discussing something in private. Somewhere."
Enigma - "Well, I hope they get back soon."
Enigma lazily leaned back in his chair.
Enigma - "Raptoris still owes me a drink."
Zephyz - "What for?"
Ashura - "They made a bet on whether or not Schalos would join our cause. And, from here, it looks like Enigma won."
Enigma - "I knew she wasn't over it! I knew it! She still hates Dramae!"
Ashura - "I don't blame her. He didn't go easy on her."
At that moment, Medasz ran into the room.
Medasz - "Everyone! I've got bad news!"
Enigma jumped up from his seat, excited. Ashura looked towards him, his expression unchanging. Zephyz, surprised, asked "How bad?"
Medasz - "A massive Void regiment is headed this way! Dramae and Raptoris are still off on a meeting!"
Enigma - "Damn. Who do we have, here?"
Ashura - "Me, my dad, you guys and Reyial, I think."
Zephyz - "That's not nearly enough."
A massive explosion rocked the Palace.
Medasz - "The east wing! Let's move! Zephyz and Enigma, you're coming with me! Ashura, go wake Reyial up!"
The group split up. As they did, an invisible figure emerged from the air.
Schakkus - "Well then. Things just got a mite interesting."
Schakkus disappeared again. At the same time, Ashura had just bashed Reyial's door down. Reyial, still sleeping, rolled over. Ashura ran over to him and shook him.
Ashura - "Reyial, WAKE UP! C'MON, FLOWER BOY!"
Reyial's expression became pained as he opened one eye. "What do you want?"
Another explosion rocked the Palace.
Ashura - "Voids are attacking!"
Reyial pushed Ashura's towering form over and bolted out the door. They both ran down the west wing, through the main hall and into the east wing. A massive hole in the Palace revealed a clear view of the Void. Next to it, Zephyz and Medasz lay on the ground, motionless. Ashura began tending to them. Reyial stepped closer to the hole in the wall to get a better look. A massive floating island with Mana shielding around it was in plain view. An enormous chain with a hook attached was attached to the Palace. The islands fired one of its cannons, launching a ball of black goo into the Palace. A gigantic Void materialized from the blob. Ashura dragged their injured comrades to safety. Reyial looked at his feet. He raised his head to look up at the Void.
Reyial - "You've got to be the least intelligent beings I've ever seen! To think that you'd throw your lives away so easily?!"
As he said that, a massive portal appeared behind the island, and sucked it in. It then sucked Reyial and the others in, but left the Palace intact. Inside the portal, they found themselves in a grey landscape, with scattered destroyed buildings, rotted trees, and millions of dead bodies. Schakkus materialized, along with Enigma.
Schakkus - "We can't risk Zeterra becoming infected, again. Reyial, you and I are going to clean up. I've already delivered the message to Dramae and the others. They'll be arriving at the Palace shortly."
Reyial's hands began glowing. "Good to hear."
Schakkus summoned a number of blades, which began floating behind him. As they stood at the ready, countless Voids rose from the rubble of the island. Behind them, the island split in half, from which a larger being rose. A muffled roar erupted from the creature's twisted, sealed mouth. A distorted hand burst from its back and attempted to grab Ashura, who had managed to dodge at the last second. However, he failed to escape with Medasz and Zephyz, who were grabbed by the hand. When Reyial saw them get grabbed, he lost it. He let out a furious bellow. The sound caused Zephyz to wake up, and as she realized what was going on, she began struggling and screaming.
Reyial - "We've gotta save them!"
Schakkus held up his hand, as if commanding him to pause. A twisted smile grew on Schakkus' face. He spoke just loud enough for Reyial to hear, but softly enough so that Zephyz couldn't.
Schakkus - "I wanna see how she'll handle this. Act as if we've both been considerably weakened. Take a few hits from the Voids. But, don't totally give in."
Reyial - "I hope you know what you're doing."
Schakkus - "Don't worry."
A Void pounced on Reyial, and after some struggling, he knocked it off, and Schakkus shot his blades into its back, killing it. At that moment, a Void jumped on Schakkus' back. As Reyial got up to help him, a Void piled onto him, as well. The giant hand had Medasz and Zephyz held tightly. A black tendril broke from the island. On it was a rather savage looking blade. At first, what seemed like grunts, clicks and hisses, it became apparent that the being was speaking. Despite this, it was still unintelligible. The blade grew closer and closer to Zephyz' forehead, at which point, she bit the hand, causing it and the blade to recoil. The being muttered a few more unintelligible words, and pointed the blade at the still unconscious Medasz. The blade shot forward, stabbing into his head. He shot awake, but only long enough for him to writhe in pain. The blade twisted and wiggled before retracting. The hand dropped his limp body to the ground. Reyial looked up from under the Void.
Reyial - "Medasz... NO!"
The being was too interested in what it had just done to realize what was happening. Zephyz' skin began changing. In her head, words echoed.
??? - "We've had our differences in the past. Many a conflict. And you still may hate me. However, this act cannot go unpunished. Become one with your inner Demon. Bring judgement, Zephyz. Suffering is the least of their worries. Let the cleansing begin now..."
She began holding her head as her body changed. Her cries of pain and sorrow became cries of loathing. The giant hand let go, as the energy welling up caused an intense burn on it. She landed feet first, rippling the land beneath her. The air became more dense on the battlefield, as she curled inward.
Reyial - "DAMNIT! SCHAKKUS, FIND COVER!"
After the two of them disappeared, an explosion erupted from Zephyz as her transformation had completed. She turned to the Voids that remained, her eyes no longer hers. They were distant and hateful. She picked up Medasz' body, and slung it over one shoulder. She beckoned the Voids come near. Hesitant at first, they quickly began the attack, which they never should have done. She warped behind one, launched a fleshy strand into its back and pulled it down. She jumped above it, preparing a Nova spell, and obliterated its head with the full brunt of the explosion. She roared with a voice that was barely her own anymore.
Zephyz - "COME. FACE JUDGEMENT."
Another Void jumped at her. She pulled the blood from the dead Void and used it as a blade, which cut a giant gash into the attacking Void's neck. It struggled to cover the gash before it fell over and bled out. The island burst open, revealing a massive blob-like beast with many appendages. As she stared at it, she couldn't control the hatred flowing from her, causing her to twitch uncontrollably. Moments later, she heard something cut into the ground behind her. She turned to see a large decorative sword. For a moment, the hatred left her face. She pulled it from the ground and turned back to the beast. Her hatred came back in droves. The intense feelings began seeping into the gold and white blade, causing black spots to appear all over the blade. Soon, small veins of black began connecting them, and eventually covered the blade. She ran towards the beast, dragging the blade on the ground. She flew through the beast countless times, and ended up floating above it.
Zephyz - 'YOUR VERY EXISTENCE WILL BECOME AGONY ITSELF!"
She began charging another Nova spell, only this time, she corrupted it. It became a Blackhole. It fed off of her hatred, growing larger. Black lightning began arcing off of it. She hurled it into the sky, and as it broke through the shell, the sky flashed.
??? - "Zephyz, if you don't slow down, you'll assimilate with your magic. Don't end your rampage prematurely. You still have more destruction to orchestrate."
A solid black beam dropped from the sky, piercing through the mass of Void flesh, causing it to collapse in on itself. As the explosion quickly closed the gap to her, she changed back and fell unconscious, falling into the growing abyss.
She went too far. She didn't listen. Naive as always.
The Silent Screams of the Black Tower
As Harral, Lavinia, Kazranae, and Rhahamiir entered the tower, things immediately seemed out of place. Upon turning around, Lavinia had noticed the door had turned into a staircase.
Lavinia - "Uhm... Harral? The door... It's..."
Harral turned about, as well, seeing the anomaly.
Harral - "Pay it little mind. We're in a world unlike the one we know."
Kazranae - "I don't think that's normal, either."
Kazranae pointed to a massive black tablet. A faint, yet, noticeable pulse emitted from it. Rhahamiir began walking towards it.
Rhahamiir - "I'll examine it. Stay back."
Lavinia - "Are you sure you want to do... That...?"
As Rhahamiir closed the distance to the tablet, the pulse became a whisper. The whisper grew into a voice, and eventually into a shout. The words the tablet spoke were unintelligible, even by Rhahamiir's ears. Not lost of ignorance, but due to the passage of time.
Harral - "Rhahamiir, what is the tablet saying?"
Rhahamiir - "...I don't know, Harral. The sounds that it utters sound familiar... Yet, distant."
Harral - "Forgetting something?"
Rhahamiir turned to him, and spoke, "A mind and soul can only know so much, before you lose the knowledge that you learned, first. My childhood is lost to me, only recorded in my diaries. It is beyond a reasonable doubt that I may, at one point, have known what it's saying. But, now... Nothing."
Harral - "Do the ancient words evoke an image in your mind?"
Rhahamiir - "They sound incredibly similar to Central Spiritkin. Central Spiritkin has most of its roots in Uaresine, the language of the Uares. It's possible that these are words of Uaresine."
Kazranae let go of Harral's hand and began looking about the room, whose walls were a simulacrum of a large area of the cosmos.
Harral - "Which means this place must be Uares in origin."
Rhahamiir - "An implication that interests me to an extreme degree."
Harral - "We'll ha-"
Harral turned and noticed that Kazranae had slipped away. He looked about the room, and found that she was gone.
Rhahamiir - "Where'd your little shadow go, Harral?"
Harral - "The only place she could've gone."
Harral turned to the staircase that had replaced the entrance portal.
Harral held out his hand.
Harral - "Shall we?"
Rhahamiir walked past him, smiling and responded, "We shall."
They descended the stairs. At the same time, Kazranae was ascending a staircase. She was skipping up the steps, her clawed feet clicking on the ancient black stone as she did. Despite feeling scared at first, her carefree disposition once again rose to the surface. As she reached the top of the stairs, she froze in her tracks. She stood before a massive room filled with twisted trees, grass and red water flowing through it. She looked about for a moment, and then quickly ran into the room, examining everything.
Harral - "Kaz!? Where'd you run off to, you wild child!?"
Rhahamiir - "Maybe she's learned how to hide like you do."
Harral - "If she has, she's a true prodigy."
As Kazranae was picking some plants, the air began stirring. Kazranae stopped, and she averted her attention to the disturbance. As she turned about, a massive emaciated figure towered over her. Its limbs looked like the branches of a young tree. Its face was covered with a rotating mask, which clicked as it did so. On the mask were two large black eyespots, unmoving and unblinking. Kazranae stared into its eyes for a moment, before exclaiming "Hi!"
It retracted its head for a moment, but quickly moved it back towards her, seemingly out of curiosity.
Kazranae - "Uhm... What's this room for?"
The creature rotated its mask, slowly. The mask slung back to its original position, making a rapid clicking sound in the process.
Kazanae - "Did you say you don't know?"
The being's mask cocks to the side.
Kazranae - "Well, I'm gunna go explore. Wanna come with me?"
Its mask clicks back into place. Kazranae skips off, jumping over the red stream. The creature followed her, with slow, deliberate movements. The two of them wandered the room, for a long while, before voices echoed from the entrance to the room. The creature stood up tall, also detecting the voices. It was Harral, Lavinia and Rhahamiir. Once he saw Kazranae, he teleported the small group behind her, facing the being. Harral readied himself for a confrontation.
Harral - "Kaz, who is this?"
Kazranae - "I dunno! It doesn't speak like we do. But, it seems friendly."
Lavinia - "Don't you know you're not supposed to talk to strangers?"
Kazranae - "Do I look like I care?"
The creature had been examining them all for the duration of the exchange. Harral addressed it, directly.
Harral - "It doesn't seem hostile."
Kazranae - "It seems curious."
Rhahamiir - "I'd agree."
When Rhahamiir spoke, the creature shifted, and put all of its focus on her. She noticed this, almost immediately. When she looked at the creature, it rotated its mask, and slung it back, making the rapid clicking sound. Her eyes turned white. Lavinia sensed that something about Rhahamiir had changed, and turned to her, still holding Harral's hand.
Lavinia - "Rhahamiir, are you okay...?"
She looked down at the child.
Rhahamiir - "It makes sense now. This is a creature from Stahlmite, before Stahlmite fell. This being is a being of nature... No. It's a being of the undisturbed wilderness. It represents what we do not know. I remember that one of my books refers to such beings that represent driving forces. It refers to them as sprites. This is a sprite of the wilderness, and the unknown."
Harral - "But, if it is part of Stahlmite, why's it here, Rhahamiir?"
Rhahamiir - "It would seem to be one of their attempts to preserve the Uares."
Harral shrugged. A voice echoed through the hall, uninhibited, seemingly originating from the air, itself.
??? - "Well observed, Rhahamiir. I would expect no less of you."
Everyone looked about, confused.
??? - "You don't seem harmful. You may meet with that which you seek."
As the voice spoke, a cylinder of black stone rose from the small red pond, with a staircase inside a small doorway. The group looked at each other, unsettled, but moved quickly into the doorway. Kazranae waved to the sprite as she descended the steps, and it mimicked her, waving back in the same fashion. At the bottom of the staircase was a room, with simulations on the walls, and two beings, conversing. One of them, a humanoid, and the other, a small dragon with iridescent scales. Every time the voice speaks, it seems to not have a specific source.
??? - "Welcome to our parlor, Gods of the realm, and company."
Harral - "Thanks... Now, the questioning shall begin. Who are you?"
Memenix - "We are those which you have been seeking. I am Memenix, and this is Cardes, Princess of the Dragon Gods. The Time Child."
Cardes, the small dragon, pounced on Rhahamiir, who spoke excitedly, "Greetings, Cardes!"
Without moving her mouth, Cardes spoke.
Cardes - "I've wanted to meet you for so long, Rhahamiir!"
Rhahamiir - "As have I!"
Cardes - "There's so many things I want to discuss!"
Rhahamiir - "As do I, Cardes. But, first I have some questions for you..."
Cardes climbed off of her, letting her get up.
Cardes - "What did you want to ask of me?"
Rhahamiir - "A question not just from myself... But, all of the Gods in the Palace. We need help. The Voids are growing even more brash than usual. Attacking strongholds, and leveling worlds. We need your help, and the help of your father and grandmother."
Cardes - "Uhm..."
Memenix - "Cardes isn't on good terms with her father right now, and in extension, her grandmother."
Harral - "We need as much help as we can get to combat the Voids. They need to be put in their place. Schalos is incredibly powerful, and also inhabits the same system as us. If Zeterra falls, so will her stronghold. If we don't unite, we will perish. And there's nothing we can do about it, if it comes to that."
Cardes looked at Harral.
Cardes - "I know, Harral... Memenix has been telling me about everything... And, I wanna help... I really do. But, I don't think they'll listen to me, after my disappearing act. And, I'm not that strong. Yeah... I can control time... But, I don't know how to do it well. I wouldn't be that useful."
Harral - "I... See..."
Harral began rubbing his chin, thinking.
Rhahamiir - "How about we go and speak with them?"
Memenix - "You're that willing to risk your life?"
Rhahamiir turned to Memenix, with a cold stare.
Rhahamiir - "What should we do, then? Sit back and let the Voids run us down? Let them use us as another fuel source? I can't stand by and let that happen. You can stay if you want, but we're going. If Schalos and Seiyrg want to fight... Then, a fight they shall get."
Memenix - "...I can sense the strength growing in your resolution. We shall accompany you."
Cardes - "Yeah! Let's do this!"
Harral - "It's decided, then. I'll get us there. Girls, do you wanna head home?"
Kazranae - "I'm going. I don't care what you say, Harral."
Lavinia - "Why would we back down, now? We had the guts to come here, didn't we?"
Harral stood there for a moment, before chuckling.
Harral - "Point taken."
He clawed at the air, opening a passage to Schalos' world. He motioned for the others to enter, but he stopped Memenix before he entered.
Harral - "Can you hold your own?"
Memenix - "How do you think I retrieved Cardes from her little escapade? I can handle a few Dragons, if need be."
Harral - "Good. This could end poorly."
Memenix nodded, and they both entered. The group emerged before a grand gate, presided over by a group of heavily armored Dragons.
Guard - "State your business, small ones. Else, leave this place, before we reduce you to cinder."
Harral began to speak, but was cut off by Cardes.
Cardes - "I'm here to see my dad."
The guard looked closely at her, and recoiled when he recognized the patterns on her scales.
Guard - "Apologies, your highness. Please, enter. Are these guests?"
Cardes - "Indeed, they are. All denizens of Zeterra."
Guard - "I see. I shall announce your arrival."
The guard commanded the gate be opened, and stepped inside, leading the group in. The gardens and courtyard were filled with Dragons of every breed. Fire Dragons, Water Dragons, Spatial Dragons, Blood Dragons... You name it, and there was at least one of it wandering about, going about their lives.
Kazranae - "This is a lot bigger than I expected."
Rhahamiir - "This place acts as a home for most Dragons, nowadays. They relocated here, after Schalos was banished."
As they continued walking through the courtyard, they observed the Dragons. Most of which seemed fairly indifferent. However, some seemed suspicious of the group, as they passed through. A few Dragons began following them as they approached the intimidating doorway. Two guards stood guarding the palace entrance.
Guard - "We've already received word of who you are. Welcome back, Princess Cardes. And, guests of Cardes, mind your manners."
Harral rolled his eyes and nodded. They entered the palace. Harral's daughters were immediately intimidated by the towering form of Schalos. Her old age was apparent in her gaze. Seiyrg was only slightly smaller, yet was miles more intimidating than Schalos, being covered in scars and many ragged spikes and horns on his head, back and joints. All of them shared one thing in common. Their scales, which took on many colors as you looked at them differently. As she spoke, Shcalos' voice boomed across the tiny realm, shaking the air.
Schalos - "Welcome home, Cardes. Are you over your rebellious phase, yet?"
Cardes - "I didn't really even have one. I didn't decide to warp halfway across all of known space."
Seiyrg - "Well, now that you're back, I'm hoping that you won't cause us any trouble."
Cardes - "I wasn't planning on causing any."
Seiyrg - "That's what they all say."
Schalos' wise eyes rose to their guests.
Schalos - "Are these the guests from Zeterra?"
Cardes - "Yeah, they are."
Schalos - "What do they seek?"
Cardes - "I'd rather they ask you, themselves. I don't fully understand their wishes."
Schalos - "Speak, then."
Rhahamiir stepped forward.
Rhahamiir - "Do you know who I am?"
Seiyrg - "Well, since you're so disrespectful, you're either powerful, or ignorant."
Rhahamiir - "I outmatch you, just so you know. But, your mother and I are of similar power."
Schalos shifted, seemingly uncomfortable, as Rhahamiir spoke.
Schalos - "What is it you seek?"
Rhahamiir - "I, as well as the rest of the Zeterran Gods, seek allies. The Voids are an ever growing threat. Soon, that threat will be on our doorstep. That means yours, too. If we don't work together, we won't last long."
Schalos - "I see... And, why should I side with the man who banished me, as well as the race that enslaved my people, all those millennia ago?"
Lavinia stepped forward. Harral tried to grab her, but she escaped his grasp.
Lavinia - "Because you're a coward, and you're being a baby, too."
Seiyrg - "What did you just say? Should I rip you apart, or just incinerate you?"
Harral put his hand on his forearm, staring at Seiyrg.
Rhahamiir - "You need us just as much as we need you. The offer stands. Take it, or leave it. If you die on account of the Voids, I won't be mourning your loss, you belligerent tyrants. Good day."
She turned to the others.
Rhahamiir - "Harral, girls, let's go home."
Harral - "Alright, if you say so."
He ripped open a rift, and Rhahamiir and the girls stepped through.
Harral - "I'd suggest you throw your lot with the Voids, if you're going to be so ignorant. At least, then, I won't feel bad about destroying you. We'll be at the Golden Palace if you decide to wise up. See yah later, posers."
Harral left, closing the rift.
Seiyrg - "You're not seriously considering joining them, are you?"
Schalos - "If not now, my child, then when? They speak the truth."
Cardes - "I'm going with them."
Seiyrg - "WHAT!?"
Seiyrg's voice shook the palace.
Cardes - "If you won't help them, I can't call you family, anymore. If this is what it takes, then I'll put myself on the line. Goodbye, dad."
Cardes opened a spherical portal and both her and Memenix left the palace. Seiyrg stormed off, shaking the ground as he walked. Schalos sighed.
Schalos - "Maybe it's about time to make amends... For the recent past... And of times better left forgotten."
The Darkness Cries Out
While Harral and his little squad were checking into the tower, the rest were waiting for his return so that they can discuss further plans. Amidst the boredom, Elrinlyn was spending some time with Reyial in the library.
Reyial - "Rahahmiir had me help her with a lot of her research into these old machines."
He motioned to the hulking black machines. Elrinlyn examined them with great interest. She pointed to a massive staff-like object on a stand that was just as large, "What about that?"
The two walked over to it.
Reyial - "Apparently, this is an ancient tool used by the Uares, the race that created those machines. I think there's a book about it, somewhere around here..."
He looked on the other side of the stand, where he found a book on a lectern. He picked it up. And opened it. He flipped a few pages in.
Reyial - "It's called the World Painter."
Elrinlyn - "Like a paintbrush?"
Reyial - "Yes, but on a far larger scale. It was used by ascendant Nature Magic users to literally shape worlds to their will."
Elrinlyn - "That's amazing... But, terrifying. And... Ascendant?"
Reyial - "Yes. Most people consider "master" to be the highest honor of a mage. Which is partially true. Becoming an ascendant is so astronomically difficult, that it's barely ever considered. However, you and I know a few of these powerful people."
Elrinlyn - "We do?"
Reyial nodded and smiled.
Reyial - "Firstly, your new mother, Mora. She's an ascendant Water mage. Someone so skilled with their abilities, that they literally become one with their abilities. Ruuki is also one of them, although he's far weaker than Mora."
Elrinlyn - "How much work does it take to become an ascendant?"
Reyial smirked at this question.
Reyial - "It depends. If you choose something simple, it's much easier. So, something like Water is fairly easy. However, something complex, like what I practice, Force magic, is incredibly difficult."
Elrinlyn - "What's stronger, more complex magic or simple magic?"
Reyial - "I can't answer that. Because it's not that simple. It comes down to your skill, your willpower and your creativity, mostly. Force magic is often considered to be incredibly powerful, but only because to use it, you must have very tight reigns on your willpower. Whereas, with things like Water or Fire, they take much less willpower to control them. So, often times, those who use those are actually weaker than someone with more willpower, and equal skill."
Elrinlyn - "...This is kinda confusing."
Reyial chuckled softly.
Reyial - "Don't worry about it. You have plenty of time to learn. And, if you foster a love of learning, one day you'll be just as strong as the rest of us."
Elrinlyn - "You think so?"
Reyial - "I know so. Just keep working at it."
Elrinlyn smiled and began looking through some books. Reyial went to sit down with his book still in hand. As he was walking, something mentally hit him, and he fell on the ground. The thud alerted Elrinlyn, who went and got whoever was available, at the time, this was Zephyz. They quickly entered the room and approached him.
Elrinlyn - "I don't know! He just fell, I didn't see anything else happen!"
Zephyz flipped him onto his back to find that he wasn't unconscious or sleeping, but in a state of being half-conscious, but unresponsive. Zephyz positioned him to lean on her.
Zephyz - "Reyial! REYIAL!"
She slapped him to try and wake him, but it had no effect.
Elrinlyn - "What can we do?"
Zephyz turned from him and to Elrinlyn.
Zephyz - "I'm gunna try something I haven't practiced yet. If something goes wrong, head to the kitchen. Medasz will be there, preparing lunch."
Elrinlyn - "What are you gunna do?"
Zephyz - "I'll be trying to enter his mind. He taught me about it, not too long ago. He said it was a way to repair someone's unconscious mind, or to understand them more."
She put a hand on his head, her eyes turned blue and she fell unconscious. Moments later, she woke in a strange world. An entirely black city. The only light coming from the many glowing signs with writing she couldn't understand. The rain was cold, falling from the ground into the sky, where another city, reversed, silently loomed overhead. It seemed that there was no true sky. Even the horizon was pitch black. She looked about the plaza, but saw no one.
Zephyz - "Reyial...?"
Her voice echoed down the empty streets, but no response ever came. Scared and worried, she began walking down one of the streets. Her footsteps echoed just as hollowly. She gripped her arms, cold and confused. The air felt stale, as if this place hadn't been inhabited for millennia. After a few minutes of walking, she stumbled upon another plaza. A lone statue stood in the center, on a platform in a long since dried fountain. The statue, pure black, stood with its arms outstretched, holding a humanoid figure. It looked down at the figure with sadness, and there were two holes where its eyes would be, seemingly from where the water would flow from. Zephyz couldn't tell if it was male or female, one could call it either. She only looked for a few moments. Just staring at the statue made her uneasy.
Zephyz - "Is this Reyial's dream...? Or is it someone else's...?"
As she kept walking, she noticed a building far taller than the rest. It was so tall, that it connected the two cities. As she approached, she saw that it was in the center of a massive hole in the ground. The hole looked to be thousands upon thousands of meters across, with an unsettling light coming from it. As she looked into it, she heard a voice behind her.
??? - "Zephyz..."
The voice seemed distant and weak, like someone who was dying. She quickly spun around, but saw no one.
Zephyz - "Reyial...? Are you out there?"
??? - "Zephyz... Help me..."
Zephyz - "Where are you?!"
??? - "Help me..."
The voice kept repeating those words, trailing off into oblivion. Zephyz returned to the street she came from. When she got back to the plaza with the statue, something was off. The figure that the statue was holding was gone. Zephyz immediately went on alert, summoning a blade adorned with thorns. She slowly worked her way down another street. But, as time passed, she became more and more distraught, and began moving faster. Her eyes darting about, examining everything. When she passed an alleyway, she saw a pair of yellow eyes looking at her. She was running now. She didn't know what was going on, but she knew something was wrong. She turned a corner, and saw millions of black humanoids with yellow eyes, flooding the street. She spun around and saw an alleyway with a staircase up the side of a building. She bolted for it. As she doubled back on the staircase, she saw a sea of yellow and black swarming below her. When she reached the top, she looked back, and saw the beings climbing up the sides of the building. As they crowded around her, they made a small circle, just staring at her. She looked about, but remained still. One of them stepped forward, and in an instant, they all jumped on her. The pile grew so huge, that they began spilling off of the building. Swallowed by the sea of darkness, she tried to fight back, but, her sword had disappeared. Through the hundreds of creatures, she only faintly heard someone calling her name.
??? - "Zephyz..."
The darkness blended in around her, no longer were there any bodies, it was simply a viscous mass. She began swimming through it, trying to find a way out. While trying, she spotted something off in the distance. A lamp post, with a man standing under it.
Zephyz - "Help! Please!"
Her words reached him, but he couldn't see her. She tried to force herself towards him, but the darkness impeded her, greatly. After a minute of trying she lost the will to keep trying. It was just too much work with too little progress.
Enigma - "Should we move them?"
Dramae - "No. If they've been like this for four hours, it'd be dangerous to pull them apart. Her consciousness might get stuck in Reyial's mind."
Enigma - "What CAN we do?"
Dramae - "Well, if anyone else knew Force Magic, they'd be able to enter along with her."
Dramae, without turning, "Hello, Eschaviron."
Eschaviron - "Hello, Dramae. You said you needed someone to infiltrate someone's mind?"
Enigma - "Why, can you?"
Eschaviron - "I can. Similarly to most of you, I have my own specialty magics. One of which is Moonless Night. I can alter dreams, create nightmares, and a few other tricks. Would you like me to try?"
Dramae - "If you can get them both back without hurting them too badly, that'd be great."
Eschaviron nodded. He put his giant hand on Reyial's head, and a sphere of darkness surrounded the three of them.
Enigma - "Can we trust him?"
Dramae - "He's much like myself. He won't do anything unnecessarily violent."
Zephyz began accelerating downwards, struggling to fight, but the force was too strong. A swarm of hands grabbed her and pulled her from the darkness. Before her, Eschaviron's towering form, commanding a group of the shadowy beings, his eyes glowing pale blue.
Zephyz - "...Eschaviron? What are you doing here?"
Eschaviron - "Dramae asked me to retrieve you and Reyial."
Zephyz got to her feet, brushing off the remaining blobs of darkness.
Zephyz - "I'm not leaving. Not until I get to the bottom of this."
Eschaviron blinked, returning his eyes to normal, crossed his arms and looked at her.
Eschaviron - "I won't argue with you. I see it in your eyes. And, I can understand why Dramae likes you so much. Since you will not leave until we find out what's going on, I'll help you. It's easier to navigate the shadows if the shadows are your friends."
They began walking through the city, looking for any signs of Reyial, or anything else. Without looking away from the street, Eschaviron spoke to Zephyz.
Eschaviron - "You're thinking. May I ask what about?"
Zephyz - "...You said that the shadows are your friends... What does that mean?"
Eschaviron looked at Zephyz, smiled and and looked back to the street.
Eschaviron - "You're willing to learn. This is good. Similarly to Harral, I can manipulate shadows. While he rarely uses it, those who use Shadow Magic are able to melt into the shadows. Most often, this is used to travel. One could travel between any location that has little or no light. The only caveat is that we can't travel to a place that is taken up by something else. So, I can't occupy the same space as you."
Zephyz - "Makes sense. I always thought that Shadow Magic was evil. Well, that and other things like it."
Eschaviron made a sound that you might be able to call a chuckle, but his incredibly deep voice made it sound like a grunt.
Eschaviron - "Many people think the same thing. Many people will not change their views. However, it should be common knowledge that all is Magic neutral."
Zephyz - "But... What about forbidden Magic, like Ancient Curses or even worse ones?"
Eshcaviron - "The rules for those have been laid down only because of the possibility that they could be used to break down the system. However, while Ancient Curses are terrifying, there are spells that make those who allow us to exist cry tears of fear. However, when used by a just and benevolent being, they can be the ultimate force of good."
Zephyz - "That does make a lot of sense. You seem to know a lot about Magic."
Eschaviron - "Indeed, I do, I've studied-"
Eschaviron stopped, and stared forward.
Zephyz - "What's wrong?"
Eschaviron - "Look. At the rain."
The rain had stopped in midair, as if something else was acting on it. Zephyz gasped.
Zephyz - "What's going on?"
Eschaviron - "Something is going on. Something bigger than you or I realize. Let's get moving. We have little time."
The two began running. They arrived at another plaza. Two things were apparent when they arrived. One, they had found Reyial. Two, there was an abnormal structure before them.
Zephyz - "Reyial!"
He turned, and quickly lost his confounded look, and replaced it with happiness.
Reyial - "I knew I could hear someone earlier. Thanks for coming along."
He turned to Eschaviron.
Reyial - "And, I'm glad that you came along, as well."
Eschaviron - "Why? What's happening?"
Reyial turned to the structure.
Reyial - "I found where Astriloth was banished to."
Both Eschaviron and Zephyz gave the structure another look. It was a gargantuan arm. It reached all the way into the upper city from the ground beneath them.
Zephyz - "Reyial, where are we, even?"
Reyial - "Not the place between dimensions, but close to it. This is one of the places that isn't supposed to exist. You can't physically be here. You can only get here through dreams or thoughts. I had invoked a spell earlier today to try and reach this place, but it had a delayed effect."
Eschaviron - "This doesn't answer the question. Where are we?"
Reyial - "Stahlmite. Or, what's left of Stahlmite. The ancient world of the Uares. The beings that lead to the creation of Spiritkin and Nightkin. This place is cloaked in sacred darkness. It's not like other darkness. It's almost... Refreshing."
Eschaviron - "I can agree. It's a rare sight to see such purity. But, why was Astriloth banished to this location?"
Reyial turned to him.
Reyial - "Want to ask him?"
Zephyz - "Ask him?"
Reyial - "He's only sleeping. I didn't want to wake him and potentially anger him. Such a fight would no doubt push this place beyond this dimension."
Reyial turned to Zephyz.
Reyial - "I know you two have a history. But, after his overwhelming defeat at the hands of Harral, he'll think twice about messing with you. Or any of us."
Reyial caused a droplet of Force Magic to well up on his fingertips. He touched the ground, and it rippled throughout the plaza. The arm retracted, leaving a massive hole in the plaza.
Reyial - "Ladies first."
Zephyz looked into the pit, and sprouted a pair of scaly wings and dove into the depths.
Reyial - "If things go south, I'll need your help to take him down. I'm not a fan of hurting people, but I can support you."
Eschaviron - "Of course. It'd be irresponsible of me to not get you two out of here alive."
Reyial jumped into the pit, and Eshcaviron melded into the shadows.
At the bottom, Astriloth sat cross-legged in a giant cavern.
Astriloth - "What do you tiny fools want? And you, didn't you bring this upon me?"
Eschaviron - "We want information. Why are you here?"
Astriloth - "This is a world where the Uares go when they die. Their shadow remains here permanently, as a shadow of their former self. They safeguard the pure darkness of this place. A place intertwined with the Void so intimately, that it's almost sacred."
Eschaviron - "You're a Uares?"
Astriloth - "No. I am the firstborn of one. Nyxa, of Midnight. However, being cast into exile allowed me to visit places unreachable. This was the first that came to mind. The birthplace of my mother. Even in death, this world is beyond words."
Astriloth turned his head ever so slightly towards Zephyz.
Astriloth - "You, Zephyz, step forward."
She sheepishly stepped forward. Astriloth leaned forward slightly.
Astriloth - "You, girl, have caused me much grief. You caused me great suffering. And you've cut me off from my sons."
She looked at her feet.
Zephyz - "I-I'm so-"
Astriloth held up his hand, as if asking her to stop.
Astriloth - "I do not forgive you. However, I understand the error of my ways. If you will agree, I ask for a mutual peace between the two of us, as well as your friends, followers and allies. And, in return I shall ask the same of my allies and followers, and I will offer my services. After all, if my prodigy, Skril-Ashura, can succeed in co-existence with you, I may also."
Zephyz - "I'll forgive you for the suffering you've caused me. And, I'll accept this treaty. But, I can't say that the others back home will agree."
Astriloth - "Obviously. However, allies are important in these chaotic times. My exile has brought much to clarity."
Eschaviron - "I have a question, Astriloth."
Astriloth cocked his head to the side.
Eschaviron - "How is it that you're not more powerful?"
Astriloth - "A worthy question. Being exiled means I'm not allowed on any worlds that are part of the union. Which means most worlds. So, I spend my time in the Void, or the remains of once grand worlds. The Void saps Mana from those who travel through it. It seems my wandering has taken its toll."
Eschaviron - "I shall ask Dramae if you may return when his mood is... Agreeable."
Astriloth - "I see. Thank you, Eschaviron."
Eschaviron - "We're both children of Nyxa. I can't stand to see one of my brothers in such a state."
Astriloth - "I had almost forgotten of our familial ties."
Reyial - "Astriloth, why did you call me here?"
Astriloth - "Because I knew you aren't one to pick fights, and you're also fairly reasonable. You're also the only one who had ready access to places like this."
Reyial - "Fair enough."
Zephyz - "So, how do we return?"
Reyial - "You wake up."
Zephyz - "What do you mean?"
Reyial - "Wake up!"
Zephyz recoiled from pain in her cheek that came seemingly from nowhere. The three of them began to fade out.
Astriloth - "Thank you for speaking with me, Zephyz."
She waved and smiled at him. He seemed confused, but waved back. When they woke up, they were still surrounded by a sphere of darkness.
Eschaviron - "Welcome back to the world of the living."
The sphere slowly faded away. When it did, at one of the desks was a single light, and Dramae asleep with his head laying on a pile of papers. Zephyz walked over to him and smiled.
Zephyz - "We'll take care of business in the morning. See you guys later."
Eschaviron - "Don't stay up too late. Good night."
Reyial - "See yah, Zephyz."
After the two had left, she looked at Dramae. She sighed.
Zephyz - "You idiot. How many times have I had to drag you back to your room?"
She picked him up and brought him to his room. She laid him down in his bed, and as she was leaving, she heard him stirring from his sleep.
Dramae - "...Zephyz? You're back?"
She nodded, "You should get some sleep."
Dramae - "Not now."
She turned back to him.
Zephyz - "Why not?"
Dramae - "I feel like I've been neglecting you. I've been incredibly busy lately, and haven't spent much time with you."
Zephyz - "It's fine. You have a hard job."
Dramae - "No-"
He sat on the edge of his bed.
Dramae - "-It's not okay."
She looked at him and sighed. She sat next to him.
Dramae - "I just wish things were simple. Like they were before the whole Void war."
Zephyz - "So do I. Although, I enjoy not being stupid, like I was back then."
Dramae - "I wouldn't say you were stupid. Everyone has to learn, somehow. Besides, you've grown tremendously as a person."
Dramae - "That's not up for debate."
She pouted, wanting to argue, but not being able to.
Dramae - "I don't get to go anywhere much. I think it's time for a small vacation. Zephyz, are you busy, tomorrow?"
Zephyz, trying to hold back excitement, responded, "No, why?"
Dramae - "How about we have a day, just you and I?"
A wide grin planted itself on her face.
Zephyz - "I'd love to!"
Dramae smiled back.
Dramae - "When I wake up, I'll need maybe half an hour, then we can do whatever we want for the rest of the day. Okay?"
Zephyz - "Sounds great, to me."
Dramae - "G'night, then."
Zephyz hugged him, "G'night."
She left and closed the door. Dramae flopped backwards, tangled himself in his blanket and went to sleep.
Like Mother, Like Son
In the Golden Palace, things have been made interesting, due to the new arrival.
Harral - "Hey, guys. I'd like you to meet our newest ally. Their name is Dashing."
Dramae - "Harral?"
Harral - "Yes, Dramae?"
Dramae - "You. Are. An idiot."
Raptoris - "That's not a name, Harral."
Harral - "Your point?"
Dramae - "Find a different name."
Zephyz - "What do you mean "Their"?"
Harral - "Dashing is a hermaphrodite."
Zephyz stood there in silence.
Dramae - "Harral. Now."
Rhahamiir - "Or, you could have me do it."
Dashing turned to her, gave a swift bow and spoke.
Dashing - "I would be honored to receive a name from you."
She stared into the eye slits on the mossy stone helmet. Her eyes seemed to be lost in oblivion, seeking through shadows.
Eschaviron - "Worry about names later. We've got a problem."
Dramae - "Back from your investigation?"
Eschaviron - "You're aware of the nearby Dragon Gods, no doubt."
Dramae clenched his fists.
Dramae - "Schalos and Seiyrg. I'm aware."
Eschaviron - "Less of the mother. More of the son."
Harral - "What's going on?"
Eschaviron - "Seiyrg, high on his own power. Completely forgot about his daughter, and is now demanding a sacrifice in mass. He's building up. For something. It's not exactly easy to get too close, even while shadow walking."
Raptoris - "Well, Seiyrg is known for being greedy. But, the Royal Dragon family is an important body. I suggest we attempt to ally ourselves with them."
Dramae, thinking for a moment, motioned to Medasz. Medasz created a notepad and urged everyone to sit down.
Enigma - "What's there to lose?"
Rhahamiir - "Quite a lot, Enigma. If this fails, we leave someone in the Dragon's home world, surrounded by multiple powerful entities."
Enigma - "What if we send multiple people?"
Dramae - "Out of the question. Schalos is an Ancient God. And, she favors her son with great intensity. If we insult him or threaten him, she'll be sure to do something. And, knowing her..."
Harral - "We get it, Dramae."
Mora - "What if we send a group with some muscle?"
Dramae - "Like who?"
Mora - "Well, Schakkus is an Ancient, right?"
At that moment, he materialized.
Schakkus - "Someone called me?"
Dramae - "Potentially."
Zephyz - "But, who's good enough with words that we'd have that taken care of?"
Harral - "Eloquence is useless if you're talking to a fool."
Zephyz - "But, these are Gods, wouldn't they at least-"
Dramae - "Harral has a point, Zephyz. I know you want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but they're less of diplomats and more of tyrants. On multiple occasions, they've killed entire cities of their people if too large of a percentage stopped following them."
Reyial - "You mentioned a daughter?"
Eschaviron - 'Indeed. Seiyrg has a daughter. Her title is the Time Child."
Reyial - "What do we know about her?"
Rhahamiir's eyes turned white.
Rhahamiir - "Cardes, the Time Child. Daughter of Seiyrg, the Stormrider. Currently 15 years old. Under the care of Memenix, the Grand Dragon Magus. Current location, somewhere north of the Arma region of the Deadlands and southeast of the town of Kotana in the Kotanian Jungle."
Reyial - "Anything else, like personality?"
Rhahamiir lowered and shook her head.
Reyial - "Hmm..."
Harral - "Let's go have a chat with her."
Dramae - "Are you crazy? She's a Time God. And, Memenix is no push-over. He crossed over half of known space to retrieve her for Seiyrg, and then she ran away when they got back."
Harral - "Sounds like someone I'd wanna get to know. Alright, girls, you ready for a road trip?"
Kazranae and Saruha - "Yeah!"
Elrinlyn - "Sounds fun. I guess I'll go."
Lavinia - "Are you sure... Harral...? I mean, they sound dangerous."
Harral - "Memenix knows better than to make the Gods angry. He's a smart man... Thing? Let's go with thing."
Dramae - "What's with you and being confused recently?"
Harral - "Look, I can't tell what gender Dragon Mages are!"
Harral turned around and clenched his fist.
Harral - "It's my one weakness. Well, behind beautiful sea-women, and pasta."
Dramae - "Just get to the point."
Harral - "The girls and I'll go meet this Cardes and Memenix. You guys should try to get in touch with Seiyrg or Schalos and try to mend our relationship with them. You girls ready to go?"
Kazranae did a muscle-man pose, "I was BORN ready!"
Lavinia rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. Saruha pulled out a dagger Medasz had made for her and swung it a few times. She smirked. Elrinlyn crossed her arms.
Elrinlyn - "This'll be a good opportunity to learn."
Harral smiled deviously, and Mora walked up beside him. She put her hand on his shoulder and nodded. Harral summoned his gauntlet, once more, and opened a rift with it. The group entered the portal, and ended up on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean.
Mora - "...Why'd you bring us here?"
Harral - "Keep an eye out for anything unusual."
Kazranae sat down in the sand, resting her head in her hand, looking to the horizon. After about ten minutes, the boredom was palpable. Mora gave in and jumped into the water, swimming about. Kazranae had fallen asleep, and the other three girls were climbing a tree. Harral was sitting next to Kazranae, sunning himself while examining the horizon for anything strange. Harral had moved Kazranae to lean on him instead of propping herself up. Sleepiness began overtaking Harral, and he too, fell asleep. A short while later, a small point of light began shining on Kazranae's forehead, slowly moving down her face, and waking her. She opened her eyes, and immediately shielded her face from the light. Her movements woke Harral. He turned to her, still sleepy. Kazranae grunts.
Kazranae - "...What's so bright...?"
Harral looked into the distance, and he saw a glint coming from seemingly nothing.
Harral - "...I can't believe it... Good work, Kaz."
He hugged her and stood up. She quickly stood up after him.
Kazranae - "What is it?"
Harral - "What we've been looking for has been in plain sight this entire time."
Harral knelt down and pointed towards where the glint was.
Harral - "Look over there, do you see anything odd?"
Kazranae focused on where he was pointing very intensely. The scene had attracted the other girls and Mora, who said nothing, but watched.
Kazranae - "...Yeah, the air looks... Strange."
Harral - "What does it look like?"
Kazranae - "I can almost make out... A rectangle of where it stops, but it's blurry."
Harral - "Do you know what it is?"
Kazranae - "Is it... Magic?"
Harral - "Not entirely., but I don't blame you for thinking that. It was a master craftsman, who dabbled in magic. It's a tower, covered entirely in a magic material that almost perfectly bends light. Keyword being "almost". Mora, I'll carry Kaz and Saruha. Can you get Lavinia and Elrinlyn?"
Mora smiled, "Sure."
Harral sprouted his wings, picked up the girls, and took off. Kazranae had no issue flying with him, but Saruha was clinging to him as if he was going to drop her. As they grew nearer to the tower, the distortion effect became far less effective, instead, slowly revealing three shimmering black towers, connected by beams. Harral slowed to a stop before the massive structure.
Saruha - "I don't like this place... It feels... Wrong."
Harral looked into Saruha's eyes.
Harral - "Is this intuition speaking?"
Saruha - "Yeah... This place feels like you're not supposed to see it. Like it isn't supposed to exist."
Harral - "I won't agree with you, yet, Saruha. But, I'll keep that in mind, in the case of things getting strange."
He looked down, seeing an ornate entryway. He flies down to it. When he arrives, Mora is already there, and the two girls were looking around the strange entryway. Harral put down Saruha and Kazranae, who immediately started looking around.
Mora - "Hey, Harral...? I think we should go back. This isn't a safe place."
Harral - "You, too? Saruha was saying the same thing."
As he said that, Elrinlyn walked over to Mora and grabbed her hand.
Elrinlyn - "Mora, can we leave? I don't wanna be here anymore."
She picked her up.
Mora - "Yes, Elly, we can leave. Saruha, do you wanna come, too?"
Saruha - "Yes, please!"
Mora turned to Harral.
Mora - "I'm taking them back home."
Harral - "Tell them what we've found here. If all of you think there's something wrong, we should have a more equipped team. And, by looking at this door..."
He slowly dragged his fingertips on the solid black door, examining the many ancient words scribbled onto it, many of them overlapping each other.
Harral - "This place truly is wrong. And, ask Rhahamiir to come, as well."
Mora nodded. Mora and the two girls turned into water, and then into mist, vanishing. After a few minutes of waiting for reinforcements, Harral turned to Lavinia and Kazranae.
Harral - "Why haven't you two decided to turn tail and run away?"
Kazranae - "There's no way a giant black tower is gunna scare me off! No matter how sinful the this place is."
Lavinia - "Even though I'm not her biggest fan, I agree with her. This place isn't just wrong. It's an offense. We can't just let it stand."
Harral turned to Kazranae.
Harral - "You said it feels sinful? Can you explain what you mean?"
Kazranae - "I... Can't... It's like what Lavi said."
At that moment, a small air disturbance heralded Rhahamiir's arrival.
Harral - "The cavalry has arrived. Care to give your opinion?"
Rhahamiir - "Their worries are warranted. This place isn't supposed to exist."
Harral - "What do you mean?"
Rhahamiir - "Harral, are you at all familiar with the Encyclopedia of Obscure Paradoxes?"
Harral - "Only bits and pieces. Rumors."
Rhahamiir - "It's a book containing the names, descriptions and locations of anything we've found that shouldn't exist. It takes the most perceptive eyes and mind to even read, and even more so to understand it. A place of this location and description exists there, and we've known of it for a very long time. It's even listed on mortal sea charts."
She looked up at the towering structure.
Rhahamiir - "It's commonly, and unoriginally, known as the Tri-Tower. For a long while, it was an object of worship for the Yratians, before they closed themselves off from the world. They could never get inside, and so they scirbbled their prayers on its doors, hoping that they would one day be answered. Their name for it was the "Tower of Divinity"."
Harral - "And yet, moments ago, my two little girls described this place as sinful. How ironic."
Rhahamiir - "They thought the tower itself was a God of some kind. Which is patently false. It, however, does hold a secret of godly proportions. A secret that I wish to know."
Harral put his hand on the door, looking at it, then to Rhahamiir, "So, can you open it?"
Rhahamiir - "Silly. This isn't a door. It's where a portal is supposed to be. Look at the markings."
Among the jumbled mess of ancient writing, there is a triangle with even stranger and older looking symbols in it.
Harral - "What can we do about that?"
Rhahamiir - "Leave that to me."
She lifted one of her heavily clothed arms, and snapped her fingers. Moments later, a being slowly materialized as it approached the door. Soon after, others followed it. Lavinia and Kazranae clung to Harral. He held them close, reassuring them. The strange beings that she summoned were similar to her. Heavily clothed, with long flowing robes and thick cloth covering their heads, including their faces. The beings, once fully materialized, began writing new writings on the door, and erasing the old ones. Lavinia spoke up, to Rhahamiir.
Lavinia - "...What are they...?"
Rhahamiir smiled at the child.
Rhahamiir - "I know they seem disconcerting, but they're not bad. I call them my Knowledge Sprites. They're basically weaker versions of myself. But, they're just as knowledgeable."
The beings step away from the gate, and raise their hands simultaneously, and a line appeared on the wall.
Rhahamiir - "Harral, care to do the honors with your gauntlet?"
Harral nodded, grabbing his arm, summoning the gauntlet. He pulled it apart, creating a portal from the strand. The sprites faded into nothingness.
Rhahamiir - "If you don't mind, I'd like to go with you."
Harral - "Sounds good. Girls? Do you think you can handle it?"
Kazranae - "I'm going. I won't turn my back on you."
Lavinia - "I'm not letting Kazranae upstage me. I'm going, too."
Harral, holding both of their hands, walks in first, and Rhahamiir followed closely behind.
While the Gods know that a powerful being has been created by the realm, no one knows where it is, exactly. Harral's eyes haven't been able to pinpoint it yet, however, it seems to be somewhere in the Sanctum Lands. The Sanctum Lands being both the most natural and also the most corrupt place in Zeterra. For a continent so large, only one actual city exists there, and it's on a small island to the east.
Dramae - "Harral."
Harral - "Yeah?"
Harral looked up from some paperwork, which he was so pleased to be doing.
Dramae - "Anything, yet?"
Harral - "Other than spikes in the ambient Mana levels on and around Soulreach, nothing."
Medasz - "Dramae, we've got something."
Dramae ran over to Medasz' station.
Medasz - "The Mana that Harral mentioned, it was only a burst. A single event occurred, so no more is being leaked."
Elrinlyn ran from Harral's room and jumped into his lap, with Lavinia standing next to him.
Lavinia - "What's all this for?"
Harral - "As one of the protectors of the realm, I have to look into strange things that happen."
Kazranae - "Let's go down there and look!"
Harral - "Are you crazy, child?"
Lavinia - "Probably."
Kazranae - "What was that?"
Lavinia - "Nothing, Kaz."
Saruha - "I wanna go!"
Mora materialized out of a fountain and walked over to Harral with them.
Mora - "If we keep an eye on them, we could all go look around."
Harral - "That place has more undead than Dramae's closet."
Dramae - "That so? Like you're clean yourself."
Enigma - "C'mon, ladies, that's enough fighting over me."
Enigma, Ashura and Reyial arrived on the scene. Dramae and Harral both gave him a dirty look.
Dramae - "Honestly, doing a search wouldn't be a bad idea. The Mana is interfering with our ability to search remotely. Medasz, Raptoris, Rhahamiir and Takous can man the Mana-Net and look into anything we need, and the rest of us can go down. We'll split up. I'll cover the north."
Enigma - "I'll cover the south."
Harral - "Mora, myself and the girl's will cover the center of the continent."
Ashura - "I'll get the west."
Dramae - "Who'll manage the east?"
Reyial - "I will."
Dramae - "Is that wise? We don't need you getting into a conflict with anything powerful, out there."
Reyial - "I can do this, Dramae."
Dramae - "Alright. Here's a warning, though. The Mana's too thick to communicate with any kind of Magic, so we meet back here, tonight."
Harral - "Try to keep up, old man."
Dramae - "Watch it, hothead."
Dramae summoned forth a gate of light, and the group entered. The portal split the groups to their designated areas. Over on Dramae's end, things already didn't look good.
Dramae - "What the hell... Is this feeling..."
Dramae dropped to one knee, exhausted.
Dramae - "No... This can't be..."
However, on Ashura's end, things were pretty calm. By his standards.
Ashura - "I WANT YOUR SOULS! DIE!"
He pulled out his godsword, and in one swing, the group of vampires were cut in half.
Ashura - "Now, GET IN MY BELLY."
Harral - "Well, this is odd."
Mora - "What?"
Harral - "The forest, it looks distorted."
Mora - "Distorted, how?"
Harral - "You probably can't see it, but the air itself is displaced. This isn't good."
Harral put out his hand. A jolt of magic hit his hand.
Harral - "It's a Mana Shield. And not your regular shielding. The realm must have created it."
Harral stared for a few moments.
Harral - "It's curved. I'll see if I can fly above it."
Harral summoned his wings and flew up. He looked towards the center of the shield.
Harral - "No... This cannot be..."
Meanwhile, in the south...
Enigma - "Why'd I have to pick south? Everyone knows none of the stories of legendary beasts take place here. Now I've got no chance to say it was "self defense"..."
He sighed and hung his head.
Enigma - "Wait a second..."
He sniffed at the air. His frown turned into a devious smile. And with that, he took off.
While everyone seemed to be getting plenty of action, Reyial was taking his sweet time. Admiring the plants and the animals. But, as he kept walking he lost his cloak of calmness. The sound of the birds had died down. Many of the plants had wilted. He knelt down to look at a squirrel. One of its back legs was covered in black tendrils. Dead.
Reyial - "The Voids."
The calm skies quickly lost their their blue. Clouds began covering Soulreach.
Elrinlyn - "What's going on!?"
Lavinia - "Mora, I'm scared!"
Mora was holding both of them. Harral landed.
Harral - "Mora, you know who it is?"
Mora - "...Unfortunately. I sense a storm coming. From Reyial."
Kazranae - "Reyial...?"
Harral - "He's usually asleep. But, he joined us for this exploration. He has the ability to turn his emotions into a physical force. And he's just as strong as me, give or take. He defeated Zephyz while she was possessed."
Ashura looked to the sky.
Ashura - "Damnit! Who pissed off Reyial this time?!"
Enigma stopped running.
Enigma - "I have a feeling things are about to get crazy."
Dramae, who was on the ground, with barely any energy.
Dramae - "Reyial... Rectify these wrongs..."
While Harral, Mora and the girls were just standing trying to think of a course of action, the air began to feel heavy.
Harral - "He's here."
Reyial stepped out from the woods, bending the trees and then returning them to their healthy states.
Reyial - "A magic shield?"
Harral - "I could get through it, but I can't dispell it."
Reyial - "I see. Stand back. A good ways back."
The group moved away from the spherical shield. Reyial stared intensely at the shield, the angry expression on his face growing more vile with each passing moment. He was squeezing his arm more tightly.
Kazranae - "Stop squeezing your arm! You'll break it!"
Reyial turned for a moment.
Reyial - "If I don't become angry enough, I can't break anything."
He turned back to the shield. He held out his hand. A sphere of white energy welled on his fingertip. In a flash, he was on the other side of the shield. A burst of wind flew past him, almost pulling the girls off their feet. The shield shattered and dissipated. He started walking.
Harral - "C'mon, girls! Keep up with him."
They started running to catch up, but Harral teleported next to him.
Harral - "What'd you see that sent you berserk?"
The moment he asked that, they reached a clearing, where a massive Void stood, obsessing over a pool of Mana.
Reyial - "That-"
He turned and looked to the south. There were six more Voids, with a single Void that had large tendrils sticking out of it.
Reyial - "-And those.
Harral - "Sure is a lot of them for just scouting."
??? - "They aren't scouting."
The group turned. It was Dramae, propping himself up with a stick.
Reyial rushed over and helped him towards the group.
Dramae - "They're trying to kill Zeterra."
Harral - "We'll handle them."
Dramae - "Harral, look. This is only a preliminary force. If they find that this is a hard victory, they'll send the main force."
Harral - "...I see. So, what can we do?"
Dramae - "When I was out cold, Zeterra spoke to me. It said we should wait."
Harral - "WAIT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?"
The Void that was before them stuck its hand into the pool. However, when it did, vines started growing on it.
Mora - "Zephyz...?"
A magic slash came from behind a tree. The Void dropped to the ground. When it landed, a figure jumped into the sky above it.
Reyial - "That's too bulky to be Zephyz."
The figure lifted a massive sword above its head and stabbed through the Void. Moments later, countless rock spires impaled the Void from below. The spires exploded, and pelted the Void with billions of rock shards. The figure got off of the Void and spoke a single word.
??? - "Dramae."
Dramae struggled to his feet. The figure walked towards them. It was clad in heavy stone armor with moss growing on it. It wore a decorative helmet of stone. One eye slit was vertical and the other was horizontal.
??? - "We must purge the tainted. You are weak. Rest. Let your allies take your place."
Dramae - "Can they handle it?"
??? - "Zeterra has ordered so."
Dramae - "...Very well..."
Dramae warped out.
??? - "Objective: annihilate Voids. Harral."
Harral - "Yes...?"
??? - "We will annihilate the Voids. The rest of you, go home."
Reyial - "No way. These fools need to learn the error of their ways."
??? - "If they're here, they have an outpost nearby. The rest of you must hunt it down and purge it of all Void people."
Reyial stood there, as if he wanted to argue, but knew he couldn't.
Reyial - "Are you sure you've got this situation handled?"
Harral - "Did you not see him... Her... It...? This guy kill that one? We've got it."
Reyial - "Good luck. Destroy them for me."
Harral hefted his two Godswords on his shoulders. The mysterious figure did the same. Before Harral could even approach the next Void, the stone-clad warrior had slashed the ankles of one of the other Voids. It fell to one knee, and Harral fired a black bolt of energy, planting a mass on the Void's body. It covered the Void with hundreds of tendrils, and devoured it. The two warriors kept slaying the Voids as a team, until none were left.
Harral - "So, do you have a name?"
The figured pulled its sword out of a Void's eye socket and examined the blood on it, which was dark purple.
??? - "I have none. I am simply a guardian. A name would be an unneeded boon."
Harral - "How about I give you one?"
??? - "I suppose."
Harral - "Okay... Ander?"
Ander just stood there.
Harral - "Uhm... Susan?"
Once again, Susan stood there, perhaps in awe.
Harral - "How about Jeremy?"
Jeremy seemed to be growing impatient.
Harral - "Ryce?"
Ryce started tapping its foot, and crossed its arms.
Harral - "How does Leopold-Oswald-Gaveth-Ivanian-Caswell-Aster-Levenworth sound to you?"
Leopold-Oswald-Gaveth-Ivanian-Caswell-Aster-Levenworth just shook its head.
Harral - "Maybe we'll just stick to something short. Like "Dashing"?"
Dashing - "I suppose I'll stick to Dashing, since I'm sick of you picking out names for me."
Harral - "Your sword needs a name, too."
Dashing just stared at Harral, as if begging him to stop.
Harral - "Let's name it the The Sixteenth Chaotic Earthshaker Dragonslaying Skysplitter Grandsword of the Blood-Firestorm of the Great Shadowcrushing Stonelords."
Dashing hit its face with its great stone guantlet.
Harral - "Also... What are you? Guy? Girl? Something else?"
Dashing - "I don't know. All I know is that the Voids are my enemies and that you people are my allies."
Harral - "Okay, you'll be a hermaphrodite."
Dashing- "Whatever works. Just let me do my job."
Harral - "Okay, Logical, the hermaphrodite! Let's go meet up with the others, and see if they're back."
Logical - "Sounds good."
Harral opened a dark rift and stepped through, and Dashing... Or Logical...? Whatever their name is melded into the ground.
A Dinner for Twenty
The Gods were all sitting around the massive white stone table, waiting for dinner to be served. Everyone was, for once, talking civilly. Zephyz decided to sit between Lavinia and Kazranae, while Harral sat next to Elrinlyn and Saruha, just across the table. Dramae, Raptoris, Takous and Eschaviron sat at one end, saving a seat for Medasz. Mora decided to sit next to Kazranae and Enigma sat next to Saruha. Yira and Reyial sat at the opposite end of Dramae. However, one seat remained open. Ruuki's seat.
Zephyz - "So, girls, how do you like it here, so far?"
Lavinia - "I like it."
Kazranae - "It's a bit bland. The building is too white. It feels like an asylum."
Harral - "Blame Dramae. He commissioned it like this."
Dramae - "What's going on?"
Harral - "We were just discussing your powers."
Dramae - "Oh, alright then."
Harral started chuckling. Enigma started chuckling as well. Amidst the chatter, no one heard the approaching footsteps. All except Harral. Once he noticed, Zephyz smelled the air.
Zephyz - "...Blood."
Slowly, the rest of the table noticed his presence. Ruuki looked far different, this time. A huge scar covered half of his face, rendering his left eye useless. A shoddy stitch job held a massive gash across his chest together. One of his limbs had been stripped of its flesh, leaving only bone and muscle. Lastly, a device was attached to where his heart should be. Eschaviron's eyes shifted when he saw Ruuki.
Harral - "That's Ruuki. The God of Blood. Due to his actions he'd been punished. I had no idea it was this bad."
Eschaviron's fist clenched slightly. Dramae put his hand on Eschaviron's, and he shook his head. Eshcaviron closed his eyes and lowered his head.
Enigma - "Welcome back, Ruuki."
Dramae - "I imagine you've learned your lesson."
Ruuki, who had been standing in the doorway, scanned the room with his remaining eye. He then turned around, and disappeared, supposedly warping out.
Harral - "Dramae, may I be excused?"
Dramae - "Yes, Harral."
Mora got up as he walked towards his room. She caught up to him.
Mora - "Where are you going?"
Harral - "My room."
Mora - "Why, what's wrong?"
Harral - "Ruuki."
Mora - "I'll come with you."
Harral - "No, you stay for dinner. You need to eat."
Mora - "And you don't?"
Harral sighed. They both walked to Harral's room. Harral sat in his desk chair, brought it towards the middle of the room, where the hole to the void was. He created a matrix out of darkness in front of himself and started examining it. Mora watched from the door. Mora materialized behind him. She put her hands on his shoulders and leaned forward.
Mora - "So, what's wrong?"
Harral - "You really wanna know?"
Mora - "I do."
Harral - "I'm doubfut you could handle it."
Mora - "Try me."
Harral - "I couldn't stand to look at Ruuki. He reminded me of myself."
Mora - "What do you mean?"
Harral - "Of my childhood..."
Mora - "...What happened...?"
Harral - "I was raised in a Nightkin home. My entire family was abusive."
Mora - "Oh..."
Harral - "Can you feel it?"
Mora - "Feel what?"
Harral - "The heat coming from my body. It's different than regular peoples', isn't it."
Mora - "Yeah... Your skin is far warmer than a Human or Spiritkin."
Harral - "My family... Enveloped me in flame many times a week. I would hide to avoid being burned. Eventually, the heat transformed my flesh into ash. My core is constantly ablaze. And it's the reason fire does absolutely nothing to me. The intense beatings and the constant burning turned me into a heartless demon. Although, over the years, I've learned to control it."
Mora was about to say something, but decided against it. At that moment, the four girls rushed into the room. Lavinia, Saruha and Elrinlyn all ran to the bed and started jumping on it, while Kazranae jumped into Harral's lap. Once he got past the shock, he was fine. Kazranae smiled and he smiled back.
Harral - "However, Mora, sometimes that part of me comes back out."
Mora - "Like the Astriloth incident?"
He nodded. He picked up Kazranae and stood up from his chair.
Harral - "I don't get that way often. But, when I do, I'm not really myself anymore."
Harral turned to the girls.
Harral - "Hey, guys, wanna go for a walk by the sea?"
In unison - "Sure!"
Harral - "Mora, wanna come with?"
Mora - "Of course!"
Harral put Kazranae down. He walked over to the door. He summoned a clawed gauntlet onto his hand, and clawed at the air. He dispelled the gauntlet and pulled the rip open. He motioned for them to enter, and he followed after. The strange family stepped onto the white beach and looked out at the water. The sun was still above the horizon, but with only about an hour of sunlight left.
Harral - "Go ahead and play, girls. We'll head back home a little after sundown."
Saruha, instead of playing with the others walked up to Harral, nervously. Harral, who was sitting next to Mora on the beach, looked up.
Harral - "Yes, Saruha?"
Saruha - "I was wondering if you could teach me magic..."
Harral stared for a moment. He toppled over laughing.
Saruha - "What's so funny?!"
Harral - "Just because I'm Dramae's enforcer doesn't mean I'm a good teacher."
Mora elbowed him. He flinched, and sighed.
Harral - "To answer your question, I can't. However, I can help you find someone who can. Along with the other three. It's important to know magic."
Kazranae - "Why doesn't physical strength matter?"
Mora - "It does. But, mental strength matters as you become stronger. Because with enough mental strength, it can make you physically stronger."
Harral - "We could ask Rhahamiir."
Elrinlyn - "Who's that?"
Mora - "An Ancient God. She champions knowledge and wisdom. I'm sure you've at least heard of her since you've been here."
Harral - "Well, she's also kinda anti-social. Either way, you guys should go play."
Kazranae - "Okay!"
Kazranae ran off and started looking for driftwood, Elrinlyn and Lavinia were sitting and talking and Saruha had fashioned a fake sword out of driftwood and a rope made from grass.
Mora - "Y'know, Kaz kinda reminds me of myself, when I was little."
Harral - "That so?"
Mora - "Yeah. I loved going to the beach."
Harral - "Is that why you're a Water God?"
Mora - "Yeah."
Mora rested her head on his shoulder as the sun drifted below the horizon.
Harral - "I dunno what it is, but I love when the sun's barely above the horizon. It has a feeling of serenity to it."
Mora - "You? Serenity? Funny."
Harral - "Keep talkin', lady."
Mora gave him a death stare, but only for a second before breaking out into laughter.
Harral - "We should probably head back."
Mora - "Yeah. The girls need their sleep."
Harral - "C'mon, everyone. Let's head home."
Saruha sheathed her driftwood blade in a makeshift sheathe of grass. Kazranae stood up, with an armful of driftwood and seashells. Lavinia and Elrinlyn brushed themselves off and walked towards them. Harral opened another portal and they all stepped into the main hall. Despite being late, the hall was bustling with action. Medasz was at the Mana-Net station, Dramae was reading some papers, Raptoris had claimed a couch and was reading at least five books at one time and Enigma was working on some sort of machine.
Harral - "You girls go to the room."
Mora - "I'll put them to bed."
Harral - "Thanks, sea dragon."
Harral walked over to Dramae.
Harral - "What's going on?"
Dramae - "Something crazy happened down on the realm. I'm going through reports."
Harral reached for one.
Harral - "What could possibly-"
His gaze sharpened.
Harral - "A stone being?"
Raptoris - "Dramae! I've found something!"
Dramae rushed over and looked at the book he had in his hand.
Raptoris - "It's a guardian, like you. The realm created it."
Medasz walked over to see.
Medasz - "The realm would only do that if it felt threatened. Something's about to happen."
Harral - "Where's Eschaviron?"
Dramae - "I sent him to retrieve the guardian. If he fails, we need to go talk to it."
Harral - "I'll remain on standby, then."
Harral Can't Catch a Break
After all that has happened over the past few days, one would hope that things had calmed down. And, it seems as though things have. While all the other Gods were eating, Harral was sitting back on the couch, barely awake. After everyone had eaten, Mora approached him.
Mora - "Still have no energy?"
Harral nodded. She sighed, sat next to him and rested her head on his shoulder. The rest of the Gods were talking as usual. Zephyz, who wasn't present for breakfast, approached the two on the couch. Mora heard her and opened her eyes.
Mora - "Oh, hey, Zephyz!"
Zephyz - "Hey, Mora!"
Mora - "What's up?"
Zephyz - "So, uhm... I was down in the realm helping with clean-up, and I came across a few villages..."
When she said that, she motioned and four little girls walked up to them.
Mora - "...What happened...?"
Harral opened his eyes.
Zephyz - "They were some of the only survivors... Their families didn't make it... And I couldn't just leave them there."
Mora got up and walked over to them. They initially backed up. Mora knelt in front of them.
Mora - "You girls can stay with me and Harral, okay?"
Harral sat up.
Harral - "I can't raise kids, Mora!"
Mora - "All you need to do is love them!"
Visually, Harral scoffed, but in his head he was thinking about it.
Zephyz - "I can ask someone else, if that won't work."
Harral - "...No. I can do it."
Mora - "I'll help!"
Zephyz - "Great!"
Zephyz knelt and hugged the four girls.
Mora - "Where are they going to stay?"
Harral - "They can live in my room."
One of the girls, who was an elf, backed up.
Mora - "Don't worry! He's not nearly as scary as he looks."
Harral - "I'll show you guys to our room. Come on."
They began walking, and as they turned into the hallway, they ran into Medasz.
Medasz - "Hey, Harral."
Harral - "Hey, Medasz."
They bumped into each other purposefully. The girls watched in confusion. Harral turned around.
Harral - "Hey, by the way, I need some new accomodations, for these guys."
Medasz - "No problem, ash-face. I'll get on it tomorrow afternoon. Got some experiments to work on."
Harral - "Fair enough. See yah, grease-monkey."
As they kept walking, the Draconi child asked Harral a question.
Saruha - "...Why'd you bump into Tok-Medasz like that...?"
Harral turned, as they reached his room. He opened the door. And motioned for them to enter.
Harral - "Because, me and him are friends. We have been for a couple thousand years."
Harral looked about.
Harral - "This is our room. I don't have any extra beds, so I'll try to find you some stuff to sleep on. So, I suppose get comfortable."
Harral left to look for bedding for the girls. The four looked at each other.
Lavinia - "...I don't know what to think of him."
Saruha - "That makes two of us."
Kazranae - "I like him! But, his skin looks kinda weird."
Elrinlyn - "He's kinda creepy. I dunno how you can like him."
Kazranae - "Other than his skin, I like him! Plus, he reminds me of a Nightkin."
Elrinlyn - "He probably is one."
Kazranae - "But, he doesn't smell like a Nightkin."
Elrinlyn - "You smelled him?"
Kazranae - "Well, yeah, I smell everyone."
Lavinia - "Creep."
Kazranae - "Excuse me? What'd you say?"
Saruha - "Fight! Fight! Fight!"
Elrinlyn - "Please, calm down..."
Harral stepped into the room with an armfull of pillows he stole from the couches. Lavinia was on top of Kazranae, trying to strangle her. Harral threw a pillow at Lavinia, much harder than you'd expect.
Harral - "That's enough!"
He dropped the rest of the pillows. He ran over to Kazranae to make sure she was okay. He picked her up and carried her to Zephyz' room. He came back and got in Lavinia's face.
Harral - "Let's get one thing straight, kid. There will be none - NONE - of that. While I don't kill kids, I will make them regret making horrible mistakes such as killing other people. I'm not a mean person, unless you disrupt the order. This may be Dramae's realm, but I'm his muscle. I make sure the world doesn't tear itself apart. And I won't let a little girl overpower me. Understand?"
Lavinia - "...Understood, sir..."
Harral - "Good."
Zephyz walked in.
Zephyz - "She's fine. She's just a bit scared."
Kazranae walked in.
Harral - "Kazranae, come here. Lavinia, come here."
They both stepped towards him, cautiously.
Harral - "I can tell that you two are related. Bound by your Souls. I know why you fight. Because you're bound. I will tell you this. There will be no fighting in this palace. Do you understand?"
Both in unison - "Yes, Tok-Harral."
Harral - "Now, let me tell you all something. You don't need to call me "Tok". It's only a title that mortals call us out of respect. Just call me Harral, alright?"
Saruha - "Okay, Harral!"
Harral - "Now, you guys can have the bed. I'll sleep on the floor."
Elrinlyn - "Are you sure?"
Harral - "Positive. After all, I'm multiple thousands of years old. You're around eight. You deserve special treatment. Also, if you need anything, ask any of the Gods. Except the deep red one. Avoid him. He's a little... Bloodthirsty."
Kazranae - "Okay!"
Harral had one of his rare moments. He smiled. And not the "I'll kill you" smile. A genuine smile.
Harral - "Go ahead and take a look around your new home. And, if you get lost, ask someone. I've got some things I need to take care of. I'll be back in a while."
Harral walked out and the four were left with a pile of pillows and a room that looks like a mineshaft with a giant hole in the middle of it.
Kazranae - "I'm gunna go meet everyone!"
Saruha - "I'm coming with you."
Elrinlyn - "I'm gunna try to find Dramae. I've always wanted to meet him."
Lavinia - "I'll just stay here."
Kazranae and Saruha left, leaving the other two to chat for a moment.
Elrinlyn - "Why don't you come with me?"
Lavinia - "I hate this place. I miss my parents... I wanna go home..."
Elrinlyn - "But, this is our home now... You can't think about it, Lavi."
Lavinia - "Lavi?"
Elrinlyn - "Yeah. Your name's too long."
Lavinia - "Well, so's yours, Elly."
They stared at each other for a moment. They broke out laughing. Mora popped her head in the door and watched for a moment. She smiled. Seems like Harral gave them a warm welcome. She walked away, towards the main hall. When she looked towards the couch, she noticed two things. One, the pillows had myseriously vanished. Two, a Harral had taken their place. He was sleeping, taking up the entire couch.
Mora - "Harral!"
He shot up and shook his head.
Harral - "Yeah?"
Mora - "How were the girls?"
Harral - "Lavinia and Kazranae were at each other's throats almost instantly. I think I talked them outta that behavior, though."
Mora - "I hope so."
She sat down next to him. Moments later, Kazranae and Saruha ran into the main hall. The moment they saw him, they started running towards him. He was already asleep.
Mora - "Uhm, Harral, I think you have visitors..."
The two girls tackled him. Startled, he jumped, and fell off the couch. The two girls sat on his back, laughing. Mora couldn't help but laugh, herself. And when Zephyz arrived on the scene with Elrinlyn and Lavinia, they couldn't hold it back, either. After them was Dramae.
Dramae - "Hey, "dad"."
Harral scowled at him. Dramae knelt.
Dramae - "How do you girls like it here?"
Kazranae - "I love it! There's so much room to run! And your library is HUGE!"
Dramae - "You like to read?"
Kazranae - "Yeah! I like to make stuff, too!"
Dramae - "I think you'll get along with Medasz. I'll have to introduce you, sometime."
Lavinia - "I saw a bunch of big obsidian machines in the library. What are those?"
Dramae - "Rhahamiir, the strongest God here, loves researching ancient technology. She's the Ancient of Wisdom."
Elrinlyn - "Wow, sounds smart."
Dramae - "Believe me, she is."
Saruha - "I saw your huge furnace."
Dramae - "That belongs to Medasz. It's called the God Kiln. We use it to make our weapons, armor and tools."
Saruha - "I wish I could use it..."
Mora - "Hey, if you ask him, he might let you. He's really nice."
Dramae - "Let's go, I'll give you guys a tour."
In unison - "Okay!"
The group ran off for grand adventures. Harral grumbled.
Mora - "I know you're tired. I'll let you rest."
Harral - "No, it's fine. Wanna go for a walk out by the Sea of Ravenous Gods?"
Mora - "Sure."
The Dance of Death
Harral has spent days trying to find Ruuki. Since Ruuki's body is so similar to his Ichorlings, it makes finding him very difficult. Even his many eyes couldn't seem to locate Ruuki.
Late afternoon, in the Golden Palace.
Dramae - "Is Harral still at it?"
Mora - "Yeah. While I understand his anger, I feel like it's a bit extreme."
Raptoris - "It doesn't surprise me."
Mora - "It doesn't?"
Medasz - "Harral has always been an enforcer, more so lately, but you get the point. Despite being the God of Doom, he's against mindless destruction, like the Voids' abhorrence for all non-Voids."
Raptoris - "Ahh, Medasz. Feeling better?"
Medasz - "Yeah. After they started putting out the forest fires, I started feeling better."
Zephyz held her hands to her mouth.
Zephyz - "I feel sorry for Ruuki..."
Dramae - "Ruuki knows what's coming. He's also smart enough to know he can't run. So he's-"
Eschaviron - "Hiding in plain sight."
Harral - "I heard that. So where is he?"
Dramae - "Long time no see, Harral."
Eschaviron - "I told you, in plain sight."
Harral - "Enough riddles, priest."
Eschaviron - "Did I imply that it was a riddle? Maybe your great sight is lacking."
Harral looked at his sword. Blood from many of Ruuki's Ichorlings dripped from his godsword.
Harral - "You sly, worthless blood-bag. Make this easy on yourself."
Another drop of blood from the blade, only this time, it made a loud crash as it hit the floor. Ruuki's body formed from the blood on the floor. Harral's eyes shifted from red to blue.
Harral - "You have a lot to answer for."
Eschaviron - "Harral."
Harral - "What?"
Eschaviron - "Allow me to determine his punishment."
Harral looked into Eschaviron's black, empty, heartless eyes. He closed his eyes, pulled his sword away from Ruuki's neck. "Have at him."
Eschaviron's usual calm air quickly faded. A large, toothy grin planted itself on his face. He walked past Ruuki, grabbing his head in his hand, and dragged him off.
Harral - "Enigma."
Enigma stepped out from behind Raptoris.
Enigma - "Yes, Harral?"
Harral - "Clean up the mess that Ruuki made in the realm. I want those creatures gone. And I want them gone now."
Enigma - "No problem."
Enigma warped out.
Dramae - "Ruuki still doesn't understand what it means to be a God in my realm."
Zephyz - "Hopefully, he'll learn, now."
Dramae - "I'm gunna go to my room."
Zephyz - "Can I come along?"
Dramae - "If you want to."
After they left, Harral sat on the couch, exhausted. Mora sat beside him.
Mora - "You shouldn't push yourself so hard."
Harral - "I know."
Mora - "Apparently you don't!"
Harral - "I know what you're going to say."
Mora - "If you keep working yourself like this, you'll start damaging yourself!"
Mora - "If you don't start taking care of yourself, I'll have to-"
She stopped and looked at Harral, who had fallen asleep. She sighed in response, picked him up and carried him to his room. Medasz sat at the table, drinking a mug of ale.
Medasz - "Well, damn."
A Bloody Harvest
During a quiet afternoon in the palace, most of the Gods were simply sitting around. Harral, Takous, Zephyz and Mora were on a raid, Eschaviron, Dramae and Raptoris were playing a game of Tejiimat while discussing battle strategies and Enigma and Ruuki were attempting to one-up each other in a boasting match.
Eschaviron - "...So, what do you think of my tactics?"
Dramae - "I like them."
Raptoris - "I have to disagree. While they are very effective, we're the attacking side, not the defending side."
Eschaviron shook his head. "You do not understand. My tactics use defense as a form of attack. Of course, if you wish for me to choose aggression, you will not like it. Nightkin have very sporadic attack patterns."
Raptoris - "Maybe sporadic is good. After all, the Voids are dangerous if left unchecked and unchallenged."
Medasz entered the room and approached the trio.
Dramae - "Hey, Meda-"
Dramae turned to him, and instantly knew something was wrong. Medasz' eyes displayed exhaustion and he was holding his stomach with one hand and using a staff to hold himself up.
Raptoris - "I'll go get some help!"
Raptoris ran off, in search of someone who wasn't busy. Dramae helped him onto the couch and put his staff to the side. He kept tending to him, when Eschaviron looked at Dramae. Dramae nodded and stepped back. Eschaviron moved closer to Medasz, who looked him in the eyes. Eschaviron smelled him.
Eschaviron - "I know what's wrong."
Raptoris came back with Rhahamiir.
Rhahamiir - "So do I."
Eschaviron - 'Mass destruction of something he brought into existence."
Raptoris - "But, what?"
Rhahamiir - "It's indirect destruction. The land is being destroyed in an attempt to save lives. It isn't working."
At that moment, the raid group of Harral, Zephyz, Takous and Mora arrived. Zephyz, Takous and Mora immediately saw the situation and started tending to him. Harral, instead, observed the conversation.
Dramae - "Do we know the situation?"
Eschaviron - "It's a struggle between two factions, if my information is correct."
Rhahamiir - "It is. However, I'm unsure who they are."
Dramae turned to Harral, and then looked to Eschaviron.
Dramae - "Let's go, boys."
The three warped out. When they arrived at the site, the forest was ablaze. Thousands of people were fleeing through the ash. Behind them, small, animal-like red beasts that quickly ran down the few that strayed from the group. The beasts worked as a team to pull apart the poor mortal. Limb from limb, until another few dug at the remaining pieces of the corpse. A gruesome scene, indeed. A massacre.
Eschaviron - "They act similar to Nightkin."
Dramae - "Eschaviron, I need your help."
Harral began trying to fend off the attacking creatures. Eschaviron's towering and intimidating form landed in front of the group of fleeing mortals. A few screamed. Dramae, floating above them, yelled, "Get out of the WAY!"
A few of the mortals moved back. He planted his godsword into the ground, which created a massive shield of light around the crowd. Eschaviron's scar opened and he hefted his shield on his shoulder. He shadowstepped to the other side of the bubble and began defending. Harral warped next to Dramae.
Dramae - "We need more support. I can handle the shield, but only for an hour at maximum."
Harral - "I was hoping you'd say that."
Harral pulled a warhorn off his belt. He blew into it, making no noise whatsoever.
Dramae - "...Uhm... I think it's-"
Harral held his finger to Dramae's mouth and smiled. A beast from the group was dragged off, and started shrieking. It was soon silenced. Very quickly after this one, almost all of them were dragged off. Harral cupped his hands around his mouth.
Harral - "You missed one!"
The last one was crushed under a giant fist. Dramae looked off into the distance. A few of the corpses had gotten up and started approaching them. Harral's smile turned to a death stare. Dramae turned to him.
Dramae - "What's wrong...?"
Harral - "...I'm gonna kill that little twit..."
Harral warped out. He arrived back in the palace and approached Enigma.
Harral - "Where's Ruuki?!"
Enigma - "I think he got mad since I got the final word. I dunno where he went, though."
Harral clenched his fist and stared at it. Enigma backed up, as the heat coming from Harral was too intense.
Harral - "When I find him..."
A Crushing Blow
It's midnight in the Golden Palace, and all is calm. That doesn't mean nothing's happening. Lately, Harral has had almost nothing to do, and the boredom has starting to get to him. Harral, who was lying in his bed, fully awake, got up. He walked down to Dramae's room. As he was about to knock on the door, a voice from the dark of the hallway. "He's asleep. I speak for him."
Harral - "I wanted to see if he'd go on a raid with me."
The figure stepped from the blackness, which didn't do much. It was Eschaviron.
Eschaviron - "I'll go talk to him."
As he opened the door, Harral rushed past him. Eschaviron tried to grab him, but he wasn't fast enough. Harral reached to the far side of the bed and flipped it onto the ground in front of him. From beneath the bed, Harral heard an annoyed, "What do you want, you idiot?"
Harral - "Let's go raid an outpost."
Eschaviron - "He says, "Can't it wait until morning?""
Harral - "No. Let's go. You, me and Eschaviron. C'mon."
Dramae got out from under the bed, brushed himself off, and put the bed back.
Dramae - "Where are we going?"
Harral - "A little bird told me of an outpost latched onto the side of the system's wall. We've gotta do some clean up."
Dramae - "Alright. Let me get my stuff together."
Harral - "I'll meet you in the main hall."
About 15 minutes later, Dramae and Eschaviron entered the main hall. Dramae hefted his sword over one shoulder, and Eschaviron had a gargantuan shield strapped to his back.
Harral - "You do know that we're fighting powerful beings, right? We're not trying to defend."
Eschaviron - "Watch and learn, mutt. You'll soon see."
Harral's brow furrowed and shook his head.
Harral - "Let's go."
The three warped into visual distance of the outpost. On the base of the outpost sat three massive towers, two of which were built very close to the margin the system, with a massive beam pointed at it. Harral pointed. "That's why we're here. These guys are a little too close for comfort. So, who wants to do what?"
Eschaviron - "Dramae and I will handle the little guys if you go for the beam."
Harral - "Sounds like a plan. Let's get to work, girls."
Harral sped towards the giant cannon, and the other two landed. The moment they did that, they were surrounded by countless Voids. Eschaviron took the shield off his back. "Dramae, allow me."
Dramae backed up. Eschaviron's usual calm and collected visage quickly left. The little light that shown on his face revealed a diagonal scar across his face. Slowly, the scar began to open, revealing a large eye with rib-like protrusions around it. He attached his shield to one arm. A Void ran at him and it began. He swung, and shattered the Void's leg, bringing it to the ground. He jumped, let loose a terrifying roar and smashed the Void's head, splattering into a pile of flesh and blood.
Dramae - "Let's clean up."
Eschaviron - "Let's."
Dramae started cutting down Voids, while Eschaviron continued crushing them. After killing a few, the Voids began swarming Dramae. He lost his chance to jump through any openings, and even if he used a powerful attack, more would replace them. Eschaviron saw this happening and disappeared. He appeared in front of Dramae and slammed his shield into the ground, causing a translucent bubble to surround them. The Voids piled onto it. Eschaviron began to strain from the weight. He heard a shrill sound from behind him. It was Dramae, casting a Supernova spell in the very confined space. The pusling orb seemingly frightened the Voids who were able to see it.
Dramae - "Drop the shield."
Eschaviron disabled the bubble, and the Voids fell onto them. And, from the bowels of the pile, a massive explosion erupted. The two stood in the wreckage of the Voids.
Eschaviron - "Well done."
As they stood there, staring at the aftermath, they felt a heavy pressure wave. Along with this, they heard screaming growing closer and closer.
Eschaviron - "Dramae?"
Dramae - "Yes?"
Eschaviron yanked Dramae to the side, and Harral hit the ground like a cannonball. He stood up, brushed himself off, and said, "Well, mission complete. Oh, by the way, the Warden got splattered against the margin from the blast."
Dramae - "Did you manage to find anything interesting?"
Harral - "Well, they were using Spiritkin tech to run the beam. They also have a massive storage crystal in the bottom of the two towers. We can have someone come take those. Also, I managed to bag a couple Souls."
Harral gave a toothy smile, and held up an actual bag of Souls. Dramae turned to Eschaviron.
Dramae - "Well, you did good."
Eschaviron - "I am your equal, after all."
The three of them warped back to the Golden Palace. Unfortunately, they took too long during the raid, and everyone was in the middle of breakfast. Ashura lifted his head from his food.
Ashura - "I smell Souls."
Ruuki lifted his head, as well.
Ruuki - "Blood?"
Mora - "Harral, where were you?"
Zephyz was standing behind Dramae, with her arms crossed. He turned around.
Dramae - "Oh, hi, Zephyz!"
Zephyz - "WHERE WERE YOU!? I WAS WORRIED THAT SOMETHING HAD HAPPENED!"
Dramae awkwardly rubbed the back of his neck.
Eschaviron sat on one of the couches and just watched the wondrous spectacle. Raptoris approached him, and sat nex to him.
Raptoris - "So, where were you guys?"
Eschaviron - "Harral woke us up at about midnight, and we assaulted a Void outpost."
Raptoris - "Any details?"
Harral - "We thought that we'd exterminated all of the Voids from this system. But, from one of our cells in the field, we learned that we were wrong. They sent some info about a series of outposts that were trying to weaken the margin around the system. You know what that means, right?"
Raptoris - "Yeah. If they succeed... It'd be a crippling blow."
Harral - "They had a beam cannon pointed at the margin. And tons of Mana stored in huge storage crystals-"
Raptoris - "And Souls."
Harral - "And Souls."
Eschaviron - "I'll help get rid of them."
Harral - "That's right, Eschaviron proved his worth, today."
Raptoris - "No, you're going to stay here. You're our direct tie to Nyxa. And, thus our only way to communicate with the Final Rest."
Eshcaviron - "...Understood."
Eschaviron - "...I feel-"
Dramae - "Different?"
Eschaviron - "...Yes. While laying in the white casket, I felt something..."
Dramae - "What would that be?"
Eschaviron - "My veins... My heart... My body... All felt... Poisoned. A vision appeared before me. A being. Black as the night sky upon the fells of my ancestral home... A being twisted by hate... He held two Spiritkin by the necks. His eyes looked on in apathetic amusement as they asphyxiated."
Dramae - We've heard of such a being. Does the name Anmdra bring clarity?"
Eschaviron - "...While at the temple of my mistress, she spoke of imprisonment. Of how she loved her sister. Of how she missed her children."
Dramae - "...Eschaviron...?"
Eschaviron - "Yes?"
Dramae - "I think I understand... Would you accompany Raptoris and I to the study?"
Eschaviron - "With great pleasure, Dramae."
The two exited the massive pillar the station sat upon and left the room that housed it. They walked into the main hall. Moments before they stepped in, they heard an argument.
Harral - "Face it, kiddo, if you were the "lord of the lost", you would have no problem diving into the core of the void."
Enigma - "THE VOID'S MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT!"
Schakkus - "I vouch for Enigma."
Harral - "Please, don't encourage his stupidity. What makes it more complicated?"
Dramae and Eschaviron stood silently, around the corner, listening.
Schakkus - "Have you ever been there? It's where realms go to die. Getting too close is insane. Voids used to go there to commit suicide, to escape their officer's orders."
Zephyz - "Well, that got dark, Schakkus!"
Schakkus - "When you've seen as many deaths as I have, you tend to see a single life like a drop in an ocean, little miss. I've only ever looked into the center point. To see out would defy existence."
Raptoris looked up from sipping some wine.
Raptoris - "What about non-existence?"
Schakkus - "What are you proposing, my friend?"
Raptoris stood up, "I'm proposing that those who do not exist or those who shouldn't can pass it as easily as a person through an unlocked door."
Schakkus - "So, why have my soldiers not returned?"
Raptoris - "What if it were similar to a moth to torchlight? Captivating... Beautiful... Death has dressed in its finest suit."
Harral - "...Interesting, indeed. Things to ponder."
The duo who had been hiding stepped into the room. Eschaviron spoke up.
Eschaviron - "What if it were not a door to be opened? But, a pitfall? My fair mistress has spoken with silent screams from the dark depths of the place unreachable. The supposed afterlife of the Gods. The Final Rest. Final, because there is no escape. A rest because they have nothing to do but wait."
Dramae - "And, what if it were not only a pitfall, but the belly of the beast. Anmdra has proven himself as a governing force in the fate of many. Why not in a place that-"
Harral - "Only the non-existant can enter, or exit... A being whose anomalous nature seemingly breaks down reality, as Shcakkus explained..."
Raptoris took another sip of wine.
Raptoris - "I assume you know things we don't, Dramae."
Eschaviron - "Lord Raptoris, mentor of Harral of Doom and Dramae of Order, have you ever met, on your journeys, a twisted woman... Known as Nyxa of the Eternal Night?"
Raptoris - "Back when the Battle of Dusk had begun, we crossed blades in one of her own temples. Less of blades, and more of words."
Eschaviron - "From your repugnant odor, I can tell that you're full-blooded Spiritkin. I have no doubt you know who her sister is."
Raptoris - "Hiuul, of the Ethereal Sunrise. Older sister by many thousands of years."
Eschaviron - "Two sisters, for many years, that clashed. Ripped and tore and hated. Now... Locked in a fearful embrace."
Harral - "No... You're saying they're trapped there?"
Eschaviron - "Not just those two, but a young one. A woman thousands of years younger than my fair mistress. One born from the rebellion. She spoke against the governing forces of all. And they heard her. They knew that the disorder would break the everything apart."
Schakkus - "Sounds like someone else I know."
Harral - "What do you mean?"
Schakkus - "Anmdra. He did the same. Born from inferiority and chaos. He saw everything spiralling towards the innevitable center. He wanted to cleanse the imperfections. But, the higher beings wouldn't have it. So, he began amassing power. He soon grew into omniscience. Even with infinite knowledge and sight, he was a short-sighted being. He failed to see that nothing needed to be cleansed. He only needed to see it for what it really was. But, his pain held him back."
Eschaviron - "He's too far gone to learn the error of his ways. He's too twisted."
Dramae - "All we can do is hope that he can see before the end."
Most of the Gods were in the Golden Palace, all except for Dramae, Zephyz Harral and Raptoris. They were somewhere in Zeterra, deep in a mountain range. Dramae had his eyes closed, sitting with his legs crossed, holding the pendant that looked so similar to his own. The word "soon" floating in his mind.
Harral - "How do you know he'll show up?"
Dramae - "This pendant showed up in my room, on its own accord, four days before you all saw it. He sent it to me as a messsage, that we'd soon be together."
Zephyz - "Together...?"
Raptrois - "He means that they will see each other, and feel each other's presence in their entirety. The bond between Nightkin and Spiritkin twins... It's... Surreal."
As he finished talking, the sky itself quaked. The air vibrating, the clouds dissipating, revealing a clear view of the in-between.
Dramae - "He's here."
Dramae got to his feet, facing the split in the sky. A black orb flew down at incredible speed, before stopping just before it hit the ground. The orb fell apart, revealing a Nightkin. Looking at him, you'd feel as if it were Dramae, but it doesn't look like him. The Nightkin's tone perfectly mimicked Dramae's.
Eschaviron - "Greetings, old friend, Dramae."
Dramae - "To you, too, Eschaviron."
Dramae held out his hand, and said, "I believe this belongs to you."
Eschaviron's cold, black skin grazing Dramae's as he retrieved the pendant. The two looked at each other, of which would look like hatred to most, but it ran deeper, and wasn't so clear cut.
Eschaviron - "I don't know what to think of this meeting."
Dramae - "Nor do I."
Eschaviron - "I feel as though I should kill you, but you don't deserve it."
Dramae - "I feel the same."
Zephyz leaned towards Raptoris and asked, "What's going on...?"
Raptoris - "I knew that both of them had high moral standards. The drive to kill your counterpart is overwhelming, however, Dramae is very set in his ways, as you know. He will not kill for such a petty reason. I'd assume Eschaviron feels the same."
Dramae - "What should we do?"
Eschaviron - "I am unsure. Perhaps... We learn about one another."
Dramae - "I agree. Follow me."
Dramae warped out, and Eschaviron used a corridor of darkness to follow. The rest of the onlookers, although stunned, returned to the Golden Palace as well. When they arrived, the duo was nowhere to be found.
Raptoris - "I'd assume they went to the Station of Awakening."
The three began towards the Station, and soon gathered a group of followers. Enigma, Ashura, Takous, Mora, Rhahamiir, Schakkus, and a few others. They entered the room and found the sphere on the Station closed. The group watched, unsure of the situation.
Inside the sphere...
Dramae - "This place was used for-"
Eschaviron - '-Unlocking your true potential."
Dramae - "And given the fact that it did that for me-"
Eschaviron - "-Logically speaking, it should also do so for me."
Dramae - "Shall we, then?"
Eschaviron - "Indeed we shall. Although, it may take some time."
Dramae - "Time is something we have."
Eschaviron entered the pod in the center, and Dramae sat next to it.
Harral - "I dunno about you, but I'm hungry. This'll take forever, so I'm gunna go eat. And take a nap. And do some extracurricular for the Mage's Colony. And organize my room. And-"
Enigma - "WE GET YOUR POINT!"
Harral - "I HAD TO MAKE SURE!"
Zephyz - "SHUT UP, BOTH OF YOU!"
The doors of the room flew open, everyone turned to see, and they were all pushed out by an unknown force.
Harral - "Pfft. Well, that was rude."
Enigma - "KINDA LIKE YOU!"
Harral - "I COULD SAY THE SAME!"
Raptoris smacked both of them.
Raptoris - "Everyone, let Dramae and Eschaviron have their time. They'll return when they're ready."
The Gods were, as usual, lounging around. Medasz was watching a visual feed on the Mana-Net station they have in the main hall.
??? - "Medasz, we've just scouted out the Cardindra System... It's bad. None of the Realms stood a chance. Their defenses were ended practically with one motion, all that was sent in to disable them were a couple Scouts."
Medasz - "What about your status?"
??? - "Not well. We'll be heading back soon. Three guards, two scouts and our assault rider have all died... Or have been corrupted."
Medasz - "Head back. We'll go over what you've found when you arrive. Ending communications."
Medasz tapped the interface. Once it was ended, he slammed his fists on the table, shedding a tear. Zephyz hugged him from behind.
Zephyz - "What's wrong?"
Dramae and Raptoris walked over.
Medasz - "Cardindra fell. We lost over three quarters of our scout force, including the assault rider. And, the Voids will be moving on to the next system soon. We're fighting a losing battle..."
Zephyz squeezed him tighter. Everyone knew what all of this meant. Another heavy loss. However, Medasz perked up out of interest.
Medasz - "Dramae?"
Dramae - "Yes?"
Medasz - "May I use the Spark of Creation to make something?"
Dramae - "Something being?"
Medasz - "A race."
Dramae stood there, analyzing what he meant.
Dramae - "Let's go to the study."
The two walked to the study, and a few Gods followed behind. Once there, Medasz and Dramae sat at a table, and the other Gods pulled up some chairs.
Medasz - "My idea involves the creation of "Anti-Void Countermeatures"."
Dramae - "Care to describe?"
Medasz - "While the name is still a subject of discussion, they'll act like Voids, only the opposite. I'm not sure how they'd function. We can't "make" our own Void-like creatures. The Voids are born into incredible power, the weakest being stronger than four Greater Gods."
Raptoris - "Maybe we could start with some kind of piloted suit, and eventually, the person piloting it will become intertwined with it."
Medasz - "Sounds like a plan."
Dramae - "I'll allow it. We should go see the Research Facility. We might find our first pilot."
The Gods agreed that they'd need someone who has at least somewhat of a scientific and militant mind to help the project. What better place than the Research Facility? Both Dramae and Medasz warped down, into the Janni Camp. As expected, the locals were shocked at their arrival. The mob of observers followed them to the facility, where they approached the main desk.
Dramae - "Yzaar-Dramae and Tok-Medasz."
Receptionist - "Of course. Go right in."
They stepped into the labratory area, and were greeted by the current director, Maxius Eilum.
Maxius - "What brings you to our facility today, my lords?"
Medasz - "We're conducting some research ourselves. I'm sure you're aware of the Voids and recent news."
Maxius - "...That I am. I heard about the recent losses."
Dramae looked at the floor, past Maxius.
Medasz - "Yes... Well... We're looking at ways to combat the Voids. Currently, only a small number of Gods can take on the Voids on a large scale. Most notably, the Elders. We've devised the idea to make large suits that can be piloted and used to fight them on their own footing. But, we need a suit and a pilot to even try. If you could create some blueprints for such a suit and get us a pilot, we'd be eternally grateful."
Maxius - "I can manage that. I already know a pilot. Let's go visit him."
The two Gods followed Maxius to a corner of the facility, where a man with a heat shield on his face and an orb in front of him. He was adding different things to the orb's surface, making many kinds of reactions. Most of which were explosive. It was loud, what with countless small explosions occuring a couple seconds from each other.
Maxius - "HEY! LUKE!"
Another few explosions occured before the Gods heard a muffled "WHAT?!"
Maxius - "COME OVER HERE FOR A MINUTE!"
Yet another explosion and another muffled "WHAT!?"
Maxius - "STOP BLOWING THINGS UP FOR A MINUTE!"
Luke - "OKAY!"
He stepped away from what he was doing and removed the heat shield to reveal thick-rimmed, soot stained glasses.
Maxius - "This is Luke. His real name is Lucifer Aldriche, but Luke's faster to say."
Dramae - "I suppose his name makes sense. Anyways, why's he a good choice?"
Maxius - "Luke's more than a little crazy. He likes dangerous toys. He's also incredibly skilled. He's a refugee from one of the shards of Wintergreen, called New Vogos. New Vogos was planning a way to reattach the other shards of Wintergreen with giant beams made of stone. However, the Voids attacked halfway through the project. He was one of the engineers that was building the beams during the attack."
Lucifer - "HEY, WHAT D'YAH NEED ME TO DO?"
Maxius - "...He also yells because he can barely hear his own voice, let alone other peoples'."
Medasz - "WE NEED YOU TO HELP DESIGN A GIANT SUIT TO COMBAT THE VOIDS! IT'LL BE PILOTED BY SOMEONE, AS WELL!"
Lucifer - "YOU GOT IT!"
Lucifer put his shield back on, got out a magic pen and began drawing designs as he walked back to his corner.
Maxius - "He should be done in a couple days."
Medasz sighed. "It'll have to do."
Back in the Golden Palace, in the library...
Ruuki - "...I do not understand... Why can I not create beings in perpetuation of He of Matter's actions?"
Rhahamiir - "You most likely could. I would ask Dramae, as he has the final say if you're allowed to or not."
Ruuki - "I see. Thank you, She of Great Wisdom."
Rhahamiir - "Excuse me, Ruuki? One more thing?"
Ruuki - "What do you wish?"
Rhahamiir - "I could help you design such beings, if you choose."
Ruuki - "...I deeply consider your offer, She of Great Wisdom. A response you shall receive, soon."
Ruuki left the library, Rhahamiir sat back down, and began reading a book. When Ruuki entered the main hall, the others had just arrived through a portal.
Ruuki - "He of Order, I have a question for you."
Dramae - "One second, Ruuki."
Dramae turned to Medasz. "Wait for word back from Lucifer and Maxius. In the meantime, think of ways to power it."
Dramae turned back to Ruuki, who was eagerly awaiting his attention.
Ruuki - "I wish to create beings of my own, He of Order."
Dramae - "...Are you aware of any reprecussions?"
Ruuki - "Hours were spent in the Golden Palace's library, today, He of Order. I understand."
Dramae - "I suppose I could allow it. Just moniter them, and make sure they don't cause any mass hysteria."
Ruuki bowed. "Understood, He of Order. I shall commence creation as soon as possible."
Ruuki walked off, leaving only Dramae in the main hall. He flopped backwards, onto one of the sprawling couches, closed his eyes, and went to sleep.