B1 — 17. A Fluffy Terrorist?!

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POV Change:  Mostly in Elinor’s POV.  A little bit further in, just like what I did Dalria’s POV in Chapter 12.  This way you can get a glimpse into the minds of other creatures and how they view Elinor.

Recap: Elinor, raised her new host of Quen’Talrat soldiers.  They may not be Elite Hunters, but they’re still a force to be reckoned with.  Elinor told the Yaltha’ma, fox-monkey-like creatures, to take her to their Elders.

Edit: I got messed up with the word count limit with The Oscillation and was unable to edit the page, and so, in trying to delete The Oscillation’s last chapter I accidentally deleted UE’s last chapter…  Fail…


Most of Elinor’s recently risen minions stayed in the hall with the still bowing Yaltha’ma army, seemingly praying to the massive skeletons.  Two of the seventeen flanked her escort; Dalria and Gwen walked beside Quin as they followed their small guides through the large double doors.

Elinor sat on Quin’s outstretched hand, vision scanning the room’s design; they’d walked into the entrance hall of the most colossal throne room she’d ever seen.  Grand columns of smooth but dusty white stone rose toward the arched hallway ceiling. The tones were contrasted by white and red polished granite flooring; many lines and squares were leading toward the center of the circular room ahead of them.

The ceiling must have been over twelve meters high, equaling the raised dais that was more than thirty meters ahead of them.  The hallway leading into the room was at least fifteen meters long, opening up to a spacious audience chamber.

Faint multi-hued lights sparkled across every inch of the space from the gemstone murals embedded into the black wooden interior; the wood almost seemed completely solid, but upon closer inspection, it was clear that there were planks that had been pieced together in an extremely tight manner to appear as a single structure.

Frayed and damaged colorful fabrics hung off the sides of the hall, showing what she could only describe as sigils.  The closest thing she could relate it to was the Nordic symbols she’d seen in one of the European museums her parents had brought her to.

Elinor could feel Edmon’s keen interest as he surveyed the architectural measures taken to reinforce the strength of the structure.  His helmet kept shifting directions as he took in every inch of the place.

Tiffany, however, was less focused on the structural stability and more pleased with the beautiful streams, meadows, forests, and mountains depicted in the shining gemstone murals along the walls; it seemed out of place for one of the most feared warlords in the Toad’s history.

High above, crafted into the domed white wood and stone ceiling were thirteen gems of differing colors; in order from left to right, you had blue-green, blue, purple-blue, purple, red-purple, black, white, gray, red, yellow-red, yellow, green-yellow, and green, white being the center.

Each jewel cast a magical light down upon extravagant thrones standing atop the immense dais.  The chairs were comprised of a wood matching the color shining overhead each seat of power.

At their center was the largest chair; a white glow emanated from the wood itself, enhanced by the light above, and it appeared no expense had been withheld from its elegant construction.  The padding upon the cathedrae held contrasting color schemes, and was somehow in a perfect, albeit dusty, condition. Clearly, the center was meant for the Ke, the ruler over all.

Two enormous white stone staircases started at the end of the entrance hall, wrapping around the walls, and leading up to the intimidating stone platform the thrones rested upon.  The stairs and chairs were more than likely designed for the Hunters and Warlord himself by their colossal size.

Beneath the dais, on the ground level, was a white wooden door that appeared to require a heavy key to open.  The material seemed the same as the Ke’s chair.

Eight luminescent trees were planted between the color designated audience stands, facing the middle of the room where a black stone circular stage had been constructed, likely meant for judgement.  There were three steps to reach the top, two-meters high.

“Impressive,” Edmon hummed.  “Everything has survived relatively well; the Yaltha’ma must have done their best to take care of the place.”

Tiffany mirrored his tone.  “It may be a little gaudy for you, Elinor, but it does fit my tastes fairly well.  Of course, we could give this palace a more gothic appeal. Those trees, though, how fascinating!  I wonder what properties they have? They’re super cute, aren’t they? They’re almost like celestial bonsai trees!”

Elinor’s eyes moved to the glowing white trees that had Tiffany salivating.  She could see why she’d compare them to bonsai trees; their trunks curved elegantly, and their limbs branched out in a graceful manner.  It shocked her how well maintained and pruned they were, likely done by the little fox-monkey-like creatures.

The trunk shone with a dull white light while the leaves radiated a brilliance that appeared to be the primary light for the entire room.  Their roots seemed to dig into a white porous stone, and weren’t that large from what she could see.

However, her attention was quickly stolen by the white center throne where the imposing sight of the former Ke could be seen; the size, features, and position of worship for the Yaltha’ma made it a certainty.

His polished white bones caused her spirit to leap for joy; she didn’t let it show on her face, but it took a bit of effort on the part of Emotional Loss to quell the happiness she felt.

I didn’t even have to look for him!  The strongest Quen’Talrat in their entire history, perfectly preserved by a group of religious creatures that worships the race, and they’re just waiting for me to summon back their god as my servant.  It’s perfect!

Ke’Thra’Ma’s bones were grandiose, to say the least; he would have likely stood seven meters tall, and had two tails, four arms, four legs, and two heads.  The one thing that made her frown were his two broken forearms; his top left and bottom right, and single broken left leg.

From her position, it almost seemed like at some point, something had cut one leg and arm bone clean through, while the damaged right arm had some form of savage dismemberment.  There were other light scrapes and bone damage, but that much was to be expected; he had been the primary threat to the allied forces.

It would have been more realistic not to find his bones nearby at all; that they’d been divided up by the victors, or ground to dust, but because of the divine image the Yaltha’ma placed on the Quen’Talrat, and their devout worship, they must have found and returned every bone.

I don’t know if I can repair those … maybe.  Can I … yes, but it’ll require a lot more energy in the reconstruction.  The higher the Grade, the more damage can be cured; well, that’s an interesting perk.  However, in the future, if a healer needs to be of equal rank, then I’d probably need a Royal Title Class Healer to repair him.  That is … if he’s a Transcendent-Grade spirit in the first place.

The Yaltha’ma had used sticks and some kind of white paste to keep the behemoth together and in a sitting position; it looked almost as good as a dinosaur display might appear, but this was their prized possession.

Sadly, only partial bones of Elite Hunters were placed near the other chairs.  It didn’t appear as if any could be fashioned into a complete specimen by the looks of things.

Her vision moved down to the five elderly Yaltha’ma prostrated on the center of the two-meter raised platform, but they weren’t facing Ke’Thra’Ma’s remains.  Elinor suppressed a grin as she felt Tiffany’s smug and Edmon’s sour emotions.

“You cheated … somehow…”

“Just an educated guess,” Tiffany giggled.

Edmon responded with a low rumble in his throat, clearly salty.

“Blessed great green one!”  The center creature said, trying to elevate his aged voice with some effort.  “Yaltha’ma have been waiting … for so long. El’Ra’Ca sees the rise of the Quen’Talrat with El’Ra’Ca’s own eyes.  The Yaltha’ma have been whispering about the return … it is time…”

Elinor’s cold green eyes swept the hall as the elder spoke; hundreds of the fox-monkey-like creatures were lining the walls, all bowing toward her.  Not one Yaltha’ma stood upon the porous rock or eight neatly-trimmed white trees.

She mused upon the sight.  The entire palace is more elegant and refined than I would have expected from a Warlord, and the outside atmosphere can’t compare.

“It really speaks to his character,” Tiffany giggled.

Her sight quickly latched onto a door behind the massive throne, a place likely restricted to most during the Quen’Talrat Empire’s ruling.  What is behind door number two?  Her eyes fell to the door ahead of them.  And door number one?

Elinor’s focus returned to the elderly creature professing his undying loyalty to the rise of the new Quen’Talrat Empire, Elinor pursed her lips before cutting him off.  “El’Ra’Ca, was it?”

He choked, grayish-black nose pressing into the black stone platform.  “Y-yes.”

“I understand this is a lot to take in…”  She trailed off, and her brow creased as she caught movement on the stairs to her left.

One of the furry creatures was racing up the enormous steps, not built with the same accessibility for their kind as the rest of the fortress.  It leaped up each stair, clearly taking some effort to accomplish each jump, while the others lowered themselves against the ground, none the wiser.

It wasn’t until the Yaltha’ma had almost reached the top that a young voice by the doorway yelled, “Great ones!  A heretic climbs the Stairs of Ascension!”

Murmurs shot through the crowd as they lifted their heads to stare up at the figure, gasps close to their lips.

“What’s she doing?”

“Te’la … a heretic?”

“No, not now!”

What she assumed was Te’la had already reached the top of the platform, running toward her prized possession, Ke’Thra’Ma’s remains, screaming, “For the hidden ones!  For the forsaken!”

Te’la launched up the black chair beside Ke’Thra’Ma’s throne, becoming invisible to the onlookers besides her, Tiffany, and Edmon.  The black crystal overhead seemed to have the ability to absorb light, which caused the Yaltha’ma to pause in question.

Elinor watched the scene with growing fascination; Te’la had likely blinded herself inside the seat, yet she somehow found her way to the edge and jumped.  She aimed right for the spinal support that kept the legendary figure intact, eyes wild with desperation. Te’la flew over the gap between the chairs, voices of the throng rising with horror.

A curious smile touched Elinor’s lips.  What’s this?

* * *

Te’la followed her misguided brothers and sisters into the Sacred Hall, primary set of eyes focused on the strange creature that claimed to be the master of the Quen’Talrat.  The white-furred and smooth one had done something that had sent a shiver down her spine; it had made the Quen’Talrat bones come back to life, and it did seem as if it controlled them.

A lump dropped down her throat as her wide pair of eyes gazed between the filling Sacred  Hall and towering burning giants flanking the ruler. It was becoming harder to hear with the pounding of their massive feet, whispers around her, and the blood pumping through her large ears.

She’d spent the past twelve seasons infiltrating the main sect, and this white-furred, smooth one had ruined everything.  She only had one option left, and this was the only time she’d be allowed in this holy room.

Her heart pounded as she maneuvered around the throng crowding the enormous bony feet of the risen Quen’Talrat.  Their green flaming bodies frightened her, but she pressed on.

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If this creature resurrects the White God, then the forsaken will never return … the hidden ones will be destroyed.  Te’la must desecrate the shrine! Everyone’s looking away, now’s Te’la’s chance. If Te’la can make it onto the stairs, no one will dare pursue Te’la; they’ll be too scared of the consequences.

Taking a deep breath, Te’la stretched out her spine, trying to ease the tension coursing through her body.  She shook out her paws, fearing they were getting numb with the tingles shooting down her nerves.

Te’la can do this … the hidden ones are counting on Te’la.

She blocked out all sound, only seeing the path she needed to take in front of her.  Taking one more breath, she dashed forward, making the first jump. She landed as silently as she could, doing her best to keep as close to the wall as possible to stay out of sight.

One by one, she jumped up the massive rise to the dais above; she was making it.  Each jump was like a stone lifting off her back; if she could just go a little more, one more step, one more leap.

Just a little more … a little more … I’m halfway!

Her nose burned as she fought back tears, legs becoming a little tired, but she pressed on; every white step was higher than her entire body.

Three more…

Her jaw locked as a boy shouted something, and gasps and howls followed it, but she was so close; she picked up her pace, and finally, she made it to the top.  The Sacred Hall was always under guard; this would have been impossible had it not been opened to welcome a new ruler. This was the first time anyone unsanctified had set foot on the dais for over two lifetimes.

She’d made it; no one could stop her; her entire life had led to this moment.  Her small feet hastened as she ran past the grand seats, colors flashing before her eyes.  It was right in front of her, the White God’s Throne, but she needed to overcome the next big challenge, the Black King’s Throne.

Te’la entered the blackness, and her sense of sight vanished; feeling her way to the throne, she took a little time to get on top, knowing the left arm was where she needed to jump from, and instantly she began doubting her decision.

If I had gone to the Gray Queen’s Throne … taken the opposite stairs … no, I must, everything I have … I must jump into the darkness; I know what’s there!

Twelve seasons, fake relationships, the deception, the mask, every empty promise and lie, everything had been for this moment.  Her feet touched the edges of the Black King’s Throne, and she jumped.

“For the hidden ones.  For the forsaken!”

Colors exploded around her as she left the black light, expecting to die, welcoming the oblivion; her life to stop the rise of the Great White God.

Her mind went blank as all the air in her lungs was forced out, and a heavy pressure collided with her body; she was whipped around, wind gushing past her folded back ears.

Te’la wheezed a few times before gasping, eyes wild, trying to grasp her situation; every voice, scream, shout, and cry fell silent.  It took a moment to realize what was happening; she was being held by the Ri’bot that had accompanied the white-furred creature.

A depressed sigh left the Ri’bot woman’s mouth; she held Te’la up as if she were an offering.  She didn’t see it, but her ears shot straight up at the sound.

The black metal-encased creature on the Quen’Talrat’s right shoulder spoke, tone like Gre’lic spikes.  “Who are these hidden ones and forsaken? Are they those spider creatures?”

In complete contrast, the black-furred one on the Quen’Talrat’s left shoulder sounded utterly impressed and happy.  “Excellent work, Dalria! You’re so fast, and oh, you might be right, Edmon. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if they were alive?”

The lull that followed made Te’la’s vision rise, and her mind froze, eyes widening.  Leering down at her from the bony visage of a Quen’Talrat demi-god, a Hunter, was something terrifyingly beautiful.  The Hunter’s polished white bones were licked with green flames, unlike the black fire that had been passed down in legends.

The giant towered over her and using this behemoth as a throne was a being that could only be described as a goddess.  The world around her turned as black as the void she’d just been in, but an effulgent light birthed behind the light-skinned figure.

Head high, the goddess appraised her with downcast shimmering green irises.  It was like she was staring up at the great orbs in the sky. The horror, grace, and power that fluctuated from its transcendent form pulled at Te’la’s chest.  Her feminine voice was like the hoarfrost, yet it was unbearably alluring.

“Do you know who I am?”

Te’la slowly shook her head, unable to speak.

“My name is Elinor; I am the Empress of the Dead.  Do you defy me?”

A hard lump dropped down Te’la’s throat.  It was an impossible statement; what could defy a goddess?  She quickly shook her head, causing the crease in the goddess’s lips to rise ever so slightly.

“What were you hoping to accomplish?”

The very thought of lying to Elinor seemed like sacrilege in her heart, a crime against her own beliefs.  “I—I was going to—to desecrate the altar … if it is—is desecrated, then I—we can bring back the forsaken ones.”

“And who are these forsaken ones?”

“The first rulers … before the great war.  The underlivers.”

“They have eight legs and twelve eyes?”

“Yes.”

The upward twist on Elinor’s lips rose further.  “Perhaps they will rise, Te’la; all will serve me.  You will take me to these forsaken ones when I ask you to.”

“Yes, Elinor.”

“Good.”

Te’la began to quake as Dalria set her down; legs collapsing, she fell to her belly, unable to support herself.  However, the Empress had already turned her attention away from her.

The forsaken will rise … it will finally happen … and Elinor, the Empress of the Dead will lead them.  It will happen…

Tears dripped down her cheeks.

It will happen.

* * *

Elinor glanced around at the quivering and crying Yaltha’ma, captivated by Imperial Presence.  Every one of them tensed as her two guards released a roar from both mouths on command, and Quin lifted her high into the air, causing another wave of silence.

“Rejoice, Yaltha’ma.  So long as you serve me faithfully, you will be protected by the Undying Empire.”

Tiffany chuckled telepathically.  “You’re a natural.  Edmon, are you disappointed you couldn’t ask the questions?”

“Elinor handled the situation splendidly,” he grunted, but Elinor knew he felt a little left out; he wanted to be useful.  Losing the bet with Tiffany had also left more than a bitter taste in his mouth.

Edmon, how do I initiate the process of inducting Ke’Thra’Ma into my ranks as a Royal Title holder?

Edmon’s emotions instantly rebounded.  “Ah, before we can begin the process, you must gain the appropriate energy.  However, you may initiate the recruitment stage. Raising a minion of the Transcendent Grade takes substantial Life Force.  We will need to gather the appropriate sacrifices.”

“Hmm,” Tiffany’s orange irises swept the crowd with a smile.  “We have plenty of willing sacrifices.”

Elinor studied the trembling creatures before her, and a touch of pity birthed in her artificial heart.  However, before she could respond, Edmon spoke up. “That would be poor decorum after she gave her word to protect them.  It must be the witch in you that sees servants as nothing more than fuel.”

“That was low, Edmon,” Tiffany shot a glare at him.  “Still feeling venomous about losing that bet?  In any case, it really depends on how Elinor wishes to utilize the ape’s servants.  They can be protected in death as much as life, and I guarantee they’d be more than willing to offer themselves up to see their beloved gods returned to them.”

“I’m not saying it isn’t a possibility,” Edmon returned, “however, if we use our numbers so harshly, then who would wish to join us in the future?  We must present ourselves with a certain degree of dignity if Elinor is to be seen as a respectable ruler.”

“Fear and power bring respect,” Tiffany countered.  “She cannot appear weak; I thought we’d be together on this front.  You don’t actually care for them?”

“Now who’s assuming?  Fear and power can be a decent base, but from what Elinor has told us, I concluded that she does not wish to utilize her subjects in such a manner.  Wasn’t it you that made a case for Gwen?”

Tiffany’s vision fell to the red-haired woman with pursed lips.  “Yes, but she’s much more useful alive.  These creatures can hardly be as adaptable as a human; Gwen can learn and improvise when given instruction.”

Elinor breathed a soft sigh before breaking into her minion’s debate.

I can see where you’re coming from Tiffany, and it would be efficient to use them as fuel to raise a powerful member of the court.  However, I also agree with Edmon, and a merciless Empire has its detractions in my mind.

What do both of you think of using them as scouts?  They should be familiar with the area and where large predators are.  Using them for their numbers and ability to navigate would be a good addition to the Empire in this early stage, wouldn’t it?

Tiffany’s black locks bobbed back and forth as she tilted her head.  “It would be useful, and if you do want to show mercy with your rule, then I’ll adapt to that.  I still believe it would be more beneficial to use them for their Life Force; I mean, we don’t need that many scouts.

“However, I understand the political advantage of proceeding with this route, and I’m sure we can use the numbers.  Yet, at the same time, that’s mouths to feed; the dead don’t need that, well, other than a small constant drain of your Life Energy, which can be fueled by the masses.

“Furthermore, we’ll need many branching leaders to handle the living subjects in time.  There’s always the possibility of them turning on the Empire, too; Undead are way more reliable.”  She sighed.

Elinor turned to smile at her former mother.  I expect that you have some ritualistic means to prevent that from happening?

“Of course!  I have many methods that we can use on living leaders to give us insurance.”  Tiffany chimed.

“Good, then it’s settled,” Edmon said, feeling elated that she’d taken his suggestion.

Elinor folded her hands atop her lap, vision sliding across the gemstone mural again.  Tiffany, Edmon, divide the Yaltha’ma between the both of you as needed.  I’ll keep two of our new soldiers with orders to kill anything that threatens me.

She glanced down at her skeletal-toad.  And … I’ll call this guy Garu.  I’ll keep both Dalria and him with me for support.  Tiffany, you give orders to Gwen to start cleaning up, room by room; I think cleaning up our new home is appropriate.

“Excellent idea!  A clean space is a happy space.”

Edmon, you’ll find out which ones are the best scouts and select them to take the rest of our forces on a hunt to gather creatures with high Life Force.  I want Quin to join them to level up; have them create some kind of cart that they can throw dead bodies into. We have a lot of mouths to feed as Tiffany pointed out.  Kill low Life Force creatures and bring back high Life Force creatures alive.

Tiffany added, “Oh, and make sure you keep track of which creatures have the highest Life Force; if we can create a list of best candidates, then we can make an efficient farming method.  Perhaps we can even start a ranch! That would be fun.”

“It’s not a bad thought,” Edmon hummed, causing the waiting Yaltha’ma to shift their eyes to him.  “I’ll look for the best materials.  What if we encounter resistance from the toads?”

Elinor’s jaw locked for a moment.  Capture any toads you find and bring them back.  Tiffany, you’ll be in charge of mapping out this city.  Figure out where we can store prisoners.

“I’m sure I’ll find something for that in this massive place,” Tiffany mused.

When you can, see if you can figure out what’s up with those glowing stones; if you can use them as power, then I’m sure it will be useful later on, and Edmon, do you need to be with the hunting party?

“No, I can give them directions from the keep, so long as they don’t go too far.”

Okay, then could you also survey the city and figure out what needs to be done to reconstruct it.  If we’re going to make this our stronghold, then we need to be secure. My dad was an architectural engineer; I’m assuming you have that knowledge with your explanation before?

“Yes, it’ll be my pleasure to inspect the city and come up with a plan to improve its original designs.  We’ll need to identify where the Quen’Talrat gathered their materials, but that will come in time.

“Hopefully, some of the materials to construct this place are still here, then we could hasten the reconstruction, and I’m sure they have had some kind of plan lying around, too; a library seems appropriate for a structure like this.”  He muttered, glancing around at the throne room.

Okay, then I’ll talk with Ke’Thra’Ma.  Once that’s complete, and he either refuses or accepts, then I’ll see more about these spider creatures.

“Please keep your two escorts, Dalria, and Garu with you,” Edmon pleaded, “and when you decide to investigate these spiders, I’d like to be there.”

“Oh, me too!  I want to be there, too!”  Tiffany said with excitement.

Of course, I’ll make sure to keep a guard detail.  Alright, then we have our jobs. Let’s get down to business!  This is finally turning out to be a little fun.


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