A few hours later,
“I will not lie,” Alan said with his voice being magically enhanced to reach everyone’s ears, as he stood before the mass of freed slaves. Thousands of them, the entirety of the Ai’Sen slave population to be exact. They filled one of the Lair’s largest halls, sitting about, or standing in smalls groups before the podium of raised earth he stood on.
“Every one of us, is an enemy of the Sinbeni kingdom now, not just the Xilfir.” Alan explained to the crowd, “All enslaved races. Be it dishonoured Bestia tribes, Goblins, Giants, and all other minorities that this place treats like merchandise. Our people who still lay within their clutches, will be treated worse than ever before due to what we’ve done.”
“Our people, because this band of misfits that lay before me have all struggled equally to survive, so one people you are. No matter your race, even if our blood is of a different colour. Family, is how you should see the one beside you.” He said, a loud echoing cheer coming from the crowd in response.
“Things will be hard, bloody and painful even. Food and water will come sparingly, medicine and clothing even, will be hard to come by. But that doesn’t mean that nothing has changed from your previous arrangement. You are unchained, free men and women. Everything you do now, is your choice and yours alone.” Alan raised his voice, knowing how to rile up a crowd.
“Out there, you are seen as vermin to be captured and trained. But in here, in here you’re people, ready to fight for your future.” He said, and they bellowed in agreement. “The one behind…everything that made all this even slightly possible, cannot be here right now. He was injured in the last clash, and is incapable of speaking to you for now. But there are still many more ready to take charge, like me, so I plea that you trust in them. They bled for you, I ask that you be prepared to do the same.”
Not quite a bellow, but agreement did go through the crowd.
“We will need food and other supplies, weapons and armour, and to secure all that we will need those of you who are able bodied to help out. The Dreadblade captains, Zentha, Pyra and Ascal will organize you, listen to them and trust in them. And make no mistake, this is a war effort, you are slaves no longer. From here on you are soldiers, and if you disagree…Well the door is not exactly open, but I’m willing to open it for you and hand you back your cuffs.” Alan said, the crowd going silent as he glanced around.
There was no response.
Alan gestured at the two Xilfir captains beside his podium, “Fighters, warriors, and anybody capable of trustable magic, speak to Ascal to my left. Thieves, hunters, and anybody capable of stealth magic, speak to Zentha on my right. As for everyone else. Gather to the far side of the hall where Pyra and the DragonKnights are gathered, you will be trained in basic combat.” He explained as the crowd began to separate, noticing that a lot less were going towards Pyra than he expected.
There were many capable of simple stealth among the Xilfir, and most Bestia could easily physically overpower any Human, Elf or Dwarf.
Alan sighed in relief as he turned away, the ground he stood on lowering back to normal.
“Not bad,” said Kyllix with a grin as he waited for the adventurer below, “And that’s high praise coming from me, mind you.”
“It’s nothing special, if it wasn’t for you we might not have been able to re-enter his lair though.” Alan responded as he glanced about, as Ascal and Zentha alongside several dozen dreadblades took names and wrote them down over several scrolls, separating the fighters and thieves into groups as he had suggested.
“Don’t cut yourself short, words are one of the greatest powers in the universe. It’s why chanting has risen supreme in casting magic, over runic circles and the mixture of ingredients, on basically every realm I’ve visited.” Kyllix said with a chuckle, “Words move people where weapons won’t, words gather armies, and topple kingdoms.”
“Maybe,” Alan sighed, his gaze falling down to his own hands.
“I wasn’t lying by the way.” Kyllix then said, regaining his attention.
“About what?” Alan asked.
“I’m a Spirit Beast, I can sense every single thing going through your head.” Kyllix replied with a smirk, “You’ll never get your answer if you don’t go and find out yourself, not if you don’t ask the question in the first place.”
Alan smiled weakly, “She may not hate me, as I thought she would, but a foolish young boy is all she still sees in me.”
Kyllix shrugged, “Bah, it’s always complicated. I’m no cupid son, but it’s never healthy to keep those things chained inside. Come on, let’s go check on the other stubborn fool.” He then said, a rift opening behind him.
“Yeah…” Alan followed the divine through the rift, taking one last glance at the separating crowd.
Before finding himself in another room, tiny when compared to the previous space but enough to be called a sizeable bedroom.
Nerick, Ivara, Shizuka and Makaela stood all around them, as Thea sat by the bedside where the still unconscious Erik lay. The drake’s expression was one of serenity, an unnatural calmness as he lay under the sheets.
“Will he wake?” Thea asked, as she gazed at Erik, visibly bothered.
“I’ve done what I can,” Kyllix said, “Now it’s up to him if he wishes to wake up. Divine bonds are difficult to break. Hell itself still clings to him, it haunts him and keeps him from waking. He has to fight it, and that will take time.”
“What if he doesn’t want to wake up?” Shizuka asked, glancing away as she saw Thea’s hands clench upon her knees.
“He will.” Makaela said with certainty, “He’s not the kind of man to give up.”
“I can’t say,” Kyllix sighed, “His pride lies shattered, his mind lost.” He said as he focused his glowing eyes on the drake, “But his heart is afire, let us hope that rage is enough to topple the despair.”
“But until he does wake, someone will have to take charge.” Alan then suddenly said.
“Oh?” Kyllix turned to him, “I thought the mighty Hero was going to.” He said with a smirk.
“I hate it when you do that.” Alan groaned, the god’s grin annoying him to no end. “No, I’m going back to Druvia. My place lies with her.”
Kyllix shrugged, “I’ll open you a path, but this does indeed leave us with a choice to make. And I won’t be holding your hands along, the bastard still limits my power and the more I use it the less time I have left here, which isn’t much to begin with. So, it cannot be me. This party needs a leader, that can take to the field. Those people out there, also need someone to rely on.”
The god glanced about the room, “So who’s stepping up to the task? Because the Pact won’t pause their plans just because you’re down to a knee. They must still be stopped.” His gaze fell upon Thea, “Someone, with a wide and strong back to gaze at. Someone with the will to keep moving. Someone that can make leadership decisions while under pressure. Someone everyone else can fully trust.”
Thea glanced his way, meeting the divine’s smirk. “Alan’s right, that smile of yours is insufferable.” She said as she rose to her feet.
“Hey, this one’s a lady killer, okay?” Kyllix briefly acted as if looking hurt, but was unable to hide the next grin.
“Erik is fighting right now, I know he is. So we’re not giving up either,” Thea said, resolve in her tone as she returned to look down at Erik. “I don’t know if I have the power, I don’t even know what is happening to me inside right now. But I’ll fight, because I believe in him, I’ll fight.”
“Well said,” Kyllix chuckled, “But words need to be backed up by actions. What will you do?” He asked, “Do you know the enemy’s next step? Do you know what they’re after or who you’re even up against?”
Thea shook her head, grimacing at his words.
But the god snorted in amusement, “Well that’s what it means to be a hero. Against unknown odds, going in with the flimsiest of plans. It’s a good thing I know what they’re planning, so huddle up.” Kyllix said as he grabbed a nearby chair and sat down.
He closed his eyes and raised his arms forwards, as a blueish goo suddenly oozed out of his palms. The slime spread out before him, taking shape and colour.
Creating a map before his palms.
“Is that…Faetera?” Nerick asked as he walked over alongside Makaela and Shizuka. Thea moving last, coming to stand directly before the God.
“Yeap, or as well as I can picture it. And before you ask, I’m about to explain what those white-blue and red-black marks are. First, what do you know of this world’s Spirits? Or as the Dragons and Fae call them, the Spirit of Nature.” Kyllix asked as he rested his arms, the map hovering in place in-between all of them.
“Spirits are a conscious existence made purely of spiritual energy. They are bound to certain places, objects or beings.” Makaela answered.
“Righto, and similarly to mana, the spiritual energy they are made of has different variations. Where mana is an elemental energy, as in it has as many variants as there are elements. Spirits, or Spirit as my people call it, has two variants. This realm’s base spiritual energy is Positive, meaning that it stands for life and the elements that make it. But there is a second variant, Negative Spirit, which stands for death, corruption and chaos.” Kyllix thoroughly explained,
“Now you know the basics of spiritual energy, there is positive and then there is negative. So back to Spirits. As you said, they are conscious creatures, with something called a hive mind. Meaning that, although many of the physical beings they are bound to don’t have brains, they all sort of have this psychic connection between them. Actually making them a single massive intellect, which in spiritual terms, they are on the level of a God.
But unlike the useless wastes of space most Gods are these days, Spirits aid in retaining life on Faetera, helping it flourish. In a way, the Spirits are Featera itself, its conscious will. Which is why the Dragons and Fae serve and protect it.
Now I’ll only briefly touch this next subject because it is fairly complicated and there’s no need nor do I want to go through the headache of explaining it fully, since I barely understand it myself. But Spirits, or spiritual energy in general, is highly attracted to mana.
This world, and all others, are engulfed by a raw kind of mana called environmental mana. It is unbound, meaning that it is not connected to any one Soul like my mana is bound to me or your mana is bound to you. This is the world’s mana, the planet’s free-roaming energy. And that kind of energy, in that massive amounts, flows in specific ways.
Ways I call Ley Lines.
And these Lines, sometimes collide, creating what I call Ley Junctures. At these specific points, there is environmental mana in greater abundance than anywhere else, therefore…” He urged for one of them to finish.
“Therefore, there is spiritual energy in greater abundance as well…” Shizuka did so.
“Right, quick learner I see.” Kyllix said before explaining further, “The marks you see on the map are said junctures, as for the colour…The two dark marks on Sinbeni and the Lost world are currently Negative energy, due to the large amount of death, corruption and conflict that has occurred or is still occurring there. The other brighter five are Positive spiritual energy.”
“And of what significance does this have for Hell’s plans?” Makaela asked as she now inspected the map more closely.
“The Devils plan to cast a massive demonic ritual,” Kyllix continued, “One that would require insane amounts of mana to accomplish. Miasma to be precise, or abysmal as we call it. Which is much harder to come by than the other kind of mana unless they plan to corrupt the entire planet. But, spiritual energy is an interchangeable resource to any other, even mana of that specific variation. But only if it is of the correct variation itself, and for Miasma they need the negative variation…” he paused for a moment, letting them catch on.
“So…they’re altering the spiritual energy at these junctures for that purpose?” Makaela said in question.
“And they’re somehow collecting it.” Kyllix added, “They’ve already collected off two junctures, which is why the Miasma within the Lost World hasn’t naturally healed yet. And also,” he turned to Shizuka, “Why the senses of us Spirit beasts are so heightened here on Sinbeni.”
Shizuka nodded, a shiver going through her shoulders as she rubbed the blue runic circle that lay on her right hand. “If Erik hadn’t figured out how to shut off my senses I would’ve been useless out there…” she said, remembering the painful experience.
“I’ll show you the ropes later,” Kyllix assured, “But that’s my basic understanding of their plan so far. From what I can tell they’re using conflict between nations to alter the spiritual energy, like the conflict between Sinbeni and Zrosa, and despicably enough the war between Druvia and Azruxan’s army.”
“Wait so…Azruxan was just a tool in all this too?” Nerick asked in surprise.
“Can’t spell Devil without Evil.” Kyllix mused, “I wouldn’t be surprised if Xokith and Kurzan actually wanted their brother dead. They’re only brothers in name after all, in reality, they’re not even family. Either way, we can expect conflict between them and their underlings as well, so that’s a plus.”
“I still don’t see how we’re supposed to protect all this land with just…us, against all of hell.” Makaela sighed in frustration.
“All nine Hells actually, Hell is nine conjoined realms.” Kyllix corrected.
“That word you just said?” Nerick asked, “I have no clue what it means.”
“Conjoined, combined, come on mate.” Kyllix shook his head, “I mean that Hell has nine realms, each bound together, making travel in between each as easy as taking a step. Anyway, we don’t need to protect all of these locations, we just need to stop Hell’s minions from accomplishing their goal. And that means going straight to the root, we defeat the Pact and each of their allies.”
“Easier said than done.” Makaela pointed out.
“Okay that pessimistic thing you’ve got going? Yeah you.” Kyllix said with narrowed eyes as he pointed his slimy finger at her. “Fix that. And as I mentioned before, you’re not alone in this. Far from it, dozens of other realms are both defending and assaulting hell as we speak. This is not just a battle occurring on Faetera, but an interdimensional war.”
“Then can’t we get some assistance over here?” Nerick asked.
Kyllix groaned, “Listen here kid, it’s bad enough that I had to come personally. No we cannot spare any others, and neither can Hell, so the pieces you have right now are all you’ve got to play with. And that goes the same for the Assassin’s Pact, both sides are spread thin, that’s how war works. So get your game face on, because they’ve been wearing it since before you were even born.”
“Game…face?” Nerick repeated in question.
Kyllix sighed, “Beggars can’t be choosers…” he mused.
Ivara hissed down at him, but Nerick still looked oblivious.
“Come on, the bloody wyvern got that one!” The god exclaimed in disbelief.