Erik stepped out of the shadows, as a new door appeared behind him. He stood within the common kitchen that he had created along with the four bedrooms and two bathrooms around it, now there being seven doors taking into the room in total.
He had created these rooms according to Shizuka’s advice, to at least make the rest of the party’s stay within his Lair somewhat hospitable.
Erik though still preferred sleeping in a dark rocky corner, human body or not.
(“Now…how to go about this?”) He thought, approaching one bedroom door where Thea and her sister Kayle lay behind. Kyllix had just taken his leave, and had left Erik with many things to think about. With so many thoughts on his mind though, he decided to deal with the most pressing ones first.
And that was Kayle, both her condition and the knowledge she had come with.
Erik stood before the door with his hand on the knob, pondering briefly. He had wanted to deal with this issue much later, but with Kayle here…he had no choice but to deal with it now.
He asked himself, if he had to choose, who would it be?
If there was to be a falling out, among his two most trusted, could he choose?
Between his Chosen, and the Queen of his children?
Erik did not know, nor did he want to think of it. But he did, he did think long about it, even after he stepped into the room he kept pondering on it. As he was met with the two sisters, some sort of calm having finally fallen on Kayle as she sat beside Thea, the two of their gaze’s rising to meet his entrance as if they had been speaking about something…
“S-Speak of the dragon…” Kayle chuckled awkwardly, giving him a weak smile as their eyes met. “I knew there was something strange about you…”
“I explained the situation to her…I hope you don’t mind?” Thea explained after Erik gave her a questioning glance.
“No…at this point it is just appropriate.” Erik sighed, “Kayle I must apologise to you, I thought I had left enough to protect you but…I never imagined there’d be a succubus powerful enough to…make it through.”
“Princess…” Kayle muttered out, pausing briefly as her expression paled. “Princess Risera Isiroth…was her name. The succubus’s name…” She said, her hands clenching as she strained herself to remember.
“Kayle you don’t have to force yourself to remember, those memories aren’t your own…And it must be painful to even do so, you might hurt yourself.” Erik warned, knowing how dangerous the magic she was influenced by can be.
Kayle shook her head, “I have to remember…I have to tell you…To tell Thea of what I know.” She said, her tone full of resolve which her expression and eyes lacked.
Thea glanced in between them, seemingly confused. “What is she…talking about?”
Erik lightly sighed, “Succubae are naturally able to intoxicate other beings through their scent, giving them short-term control of that individual. That is what you know as a Charm, but the stronger of them are also capable to use a higher-level magic, called Soul Charm. This household magic…binds a soul to the caster’s, sharing memories, knowledge and senses. The master soul, that being the caster’s, also has complete control over the bound soul’s body for at most ten years. That, is what your sister was under.” He explained, gesturing to Kayle.
“So…” Thea turned to face her sister, “You shared memories with that…thing?”
Kayle shook her head, “More than just…memories. Sensations, thoughts, pain…everything but my consciousness of who I am…although even that became blurry after a whi-But t-that’s not important now!” she suddenly exclaimed, her eyes widening as she grabbed Thea by the shoulders, raising her gaze to meet her sister’s eyes.
“Thea I…I know…I know who killed our mother.” Kayle said, as Thea felt her trembling hands clench her shoulders.
Erik went silent as he heard those words, standing in the background and deciding to only listen for now. (“What else can I do?…”) He asked himself, feeling as if he shouldn’t even be here right now.
“Y-You…do?” Thea managed, surprise filling her expression as she stared at her sister. “Who?…”
Kayle’s eyes darkened, recalling the memory, as it floated within her head as clear as day. Feeling the unnaturalness of it, as it resurfaced. “You remember how…Father challenged the King’s running to decriminalize the Xilfir within Druvia, last year?”
“Yeah…I do, but what does that have anything to do with it?” Thea asked, growing more confused, as did Erik.
“Everything…It had everything to do with it.” Kayle said as she chuckled weakly, “Because father knew who…killed her, as well. He just never told us. He found out just how I did, through a survivor of the fall of Fort Balgor, who was present at the time of her…death.”
Thea grabbed her sister’s shaking hands, “Kayle…who? Who was it?”
“It was a Xilfir,” Kayle said, “Makaela Xilfir killed our mother.”
Thea froze, shaking her head as she heard that name. “No…it can’t be…she-”
“You know her…then?” Kayle asked, seeing the surprise in her sister’s eyes. “Sis please…don’t blame her…” she then said, causing both Thea and Erik to grow more bewildered. “She had no choice, the Devils plotted everything. Balgor fell because of a demoness! And Father’s rebellion? She wanted it to happen too!”
“Kayle slow down…I do-don’t understand.” Thea managed to mutter out through the shock.
“Azkel…plotted to kill our mother, to weaken father and get inside his head. She used Risera to force the Dreadblade’s commander to do it, to pin the entire blame on them and make the peace talks between the Xilfir and Druvia to fall apart.” Kayle explained further, “Mother’s assassination…destroyed the moral of the soldiers at Balgor as well…That witch planned it all!”
Kayle suddenly gasped, grabbing her own head as tears streamed out of her eyes. She wailed in pain, feeling as if her head was going to explode from the sudden pressure that filled it.
“K-Kayle! Erik what’s wrong with her?!” Thea asked in a panic, grabbing Kayle as she frantically rolled about in agony.
Erik was woken from his daze, and rushed to their side. Grabbing a hold of Kayle himself, the both of them holding her down as she struggled briefly, but slowly calmed down after a few moments.
“The implanted memories, they’re too much for her to handle right now. She needs rest, immediately.” Erik explained, raising his left palm over to Kayle’s forehead and quickly chanting beneath his breath. “Dark Arts; Psychic School; Drowse!”
A dim blue light flashed out of Erik’s palm, washing over Kayle’s face briefly before dissipating. Causing her an extreme sense of drowsiness.
“Thea…” She muttered, as sleep began to overtake her.
“I’m here Kayle…rest, w-we can talk after, okay? I’ll be here.” Thea assured her.
“M-Makaela…she was…forced…” Kayle whispered, seemingly fighting the weariness that overtook her. “Risera…c-charmed…her sister…” She managed to say, before being unable to fight off the magic any longer.
She fell asleep, a forced slumber through which she would have no dreams, nor nightmares. Something Erik knew she will be haunted by sooner or later, but for now, he gave her the solace she needed.
“Makaela…” Thea whispered the name, clenching her hands into fists as she gazed down at her sleeping younger sibling.
“I’m sorry,” Erik then suddenly said, as he pulled away from them. “I knew, but I didn’t tell you.” He admitted, but the weight on his chest only got heavier.
Silence befall them for several moments, “Why?” silence which Thea then broke with a simple word.
A question he had been dreading to answer.
“I have no excuse…I simply didn’t want you to know…not yet.” Erik answered truthfully.
“Hah…And I’m the gullible one?” Thea asked, as tears now ran down her face. “I thought…I thought I was over it. My mother’s death. But now? Everything I felt when…when I was told that she was gone…it’s all back, Erik…It’s all back.”
“I didn’t know the full story…either. I didn’t know Makaela did it for one of her sisters…” Erik said, (“This is still a mess though…”) he thought, although he couldn’t deny the relief that filled him at the time.
Thea collapsed onto the bed next to Kayle, closing her eyes as she clenched the sheets. “Why? Why did this have to happen?…” She asked, yet expected no answer. “I’m sorry Erik…I…I don’t know if I can…”
“Face Makaela?” Erik finished her words for her, “I know, and I can stall for some time before you have to…but at some point, you will have to Thea.”
“I…Right now, Erik, I hate her…” Thea said, but no hate was present in her tone, only pain.
Erik nodded, “Whatever you decide to do, Thea…I won’t stop you, but I won’t interfere either.” He said, his words meaning more to himself than they did to her.
Finding that, for the first time in his long life.
Erikathyr, could not choose.
Turning around, and deciding to give her space, Erik left the room.
“Is this wise, master?” Dejal asked, as their stone humanoid form appeared out of the kitchen’s ground before him. “The Chosen’s mind is very unstable now, would it not have been better to silence the sis-”
The Elemental’s form shuddered, as Erikathyr’s full draconic gaze befell it. “Have…the defences been fully activated?” Erik asked, calming himself from the sudden rage that had overtaken him. Remembering that, Elementals felt no such thing as emotion, nor had any morals to speak of. Which made them perfect guardians, as they felt no fear, nor faltered against the opposition.
“Yes master, the Grey Perimeter, the barriers, the curses and every other defensive measure has been turned active.” Dejal reported, “But I still remain as the sole guardian awake.”
“Very well, I guess I should awaken them, even if it means less control over the spatial alteration circle…” Erik mused with a sigh.
“All rooms, but the four treasuries, have been connected through doorways and other means as you’ve instructed. Shall I connect the treasuries as well? You won’t be able to teleport into them anymore after more guardians have awoken, the Lair cannot handle it.” Dejal warned.
“I know, yes connect them as well…but put extra measures in place to keep intruders out. Also, where that…camp is located, keep all entrances to and from it locked unless I, my Chosen or another of my party wish to pass through.” Erik ordered.
“It shall be done.” Dejal said, and it faded back into the ground with its orders.
But Erik remained where he was, sighing out a long breath as he mentally chided himself for losing his patience there. Too many things were on his mind, too many conflicting thoughts and problems that needed resolving.
From Kyllix’s advice and warning.
Thea and Makaela’s issues to come.
The unknown that the Assassin’s Pact still was.
To Brazath’s appearance.
And even, what was sure to be occurring back at Druvia.
All that plagued Erik’s mind, alongside his guilt. Guilt that he couldn’t let go of, guilt of his past, his present, and what surely was to happen in the future.
(“Less like a proud Dragon…and more like a blind Human…”) Delirio’s words floated through his head, and just how true they rang with his current state. Erik took a deep breath, as he smiled with melancholy.
(“Pitiful, is this what has become of me?…”) He told himself, deciding that he won’t let any of it slow him down.
(“Things were simpler when I was King…Everyone was beneath me…Hah, what a fool was I then.”) He mused, stepping forth and beginning to make his way through the Lair, using the doorways Dejal had made.
(“Back then I was…”) Erik continued to reminisce, taking his mind off the current problems, as he walked. (“At the top, and alone. Striving…struggling for an empty goal…But no more.”) Resolve filling him, as he reminded himself of his new goal.
As he reached his armoury, the massive metal door closing behind him as he entered, dozens of locks clicking and runic symbols lightning up once it did.
Erik glanced back at the door, and then down the long corridor. “I’m done…holding back.” He said, as his white staff materialized into his outstretched hand. Nodding to himself, as he made a decision.
“No more…” He mused out loud, as he slammed his staff down upon the paved ground. “Open.” He spoke in a commanding tone, and the ground beneath him shuddered, then moved.
The pavement opened up and lowered. Revealing a dimly lit staircase beneath.
Erik took off his tattered cloak and robe, standing with a bare chest and arms while holding his arms out to either side of him. “Come, your owner calls you. Come, to your master.” Erik chanted, and the entire room rumbled now.
As equipment flew out from each of the large doorways.
At first, it was just armour, as a chest-plate of gleaming silver flew out of the dwarven hall and equipped itself over him. Then a pair of pure white plate-legs, gauntlets and bracers out of the elven hall. A pair of silver leather boots with crimson feathers, out of the Goblin hall.
And white helmet adorned with gleaming clear jewels, out of the Fae hall.
Each flying over to be worn by him as he rose to hover in mid-air for them to do so.
Then a crimson necklace with a spiralling black talisman at its centre, from the Orc hall.
Six rings. Two red, and a blue from the Mer hall. One green from the Giant’s hall. Another red and a bejewelled clear white from the Dark Ages hall.
And finally, a cloak of golden fur out of the Angelic hall. Flying over to adorn his back, after which he paused.
Erik lowered his arms, and he descended back to the ground. Fully equipped with different pieces of armour that seemed slightly off alongside one another, but as his cloak attached itself, they suddenly shifted form and colour to match.
He took a step down the staircase, but stopped. Pondering something briefly as he glanced at his staff, then at his empty hand.
Raising said empty hand forth, a sudden blast of transparent energy burst out of his palm and travelled down the corridor, making a sudden turn for the Human hall. Out of it, flew an object covered in black cloth and crimson chains. Each of which was torn off as it flew at him, revealing a scabbard of scaly white which unsheathed itself and strapped onto his belt. The weapon though hovered before him.
It had a handle of the same white reptilian leather, a handguard of blue-grey metal, and the blackest of blades.
It was the Underblade, the weapon also known as Hell’s Devourer.
Erik, grabbed hold of its grip, and recoiled as the dark green guises engulfed him like a flame.
(“You who wield us, what is your desire?”) The voices asked, as he struggled to retain consciousness, as he descended the stairs.
(“We are power, we are strength. Do you wish for us? Do you want power? Is it…strength…which you seek, Dragon? We are it.”) The voices offered, and Erik had reached the stair’s bottom.
Finding himself in a circular room much like the main hall, yet this one was divided into three sections.
One was alit with green torches, as vines, sand and stone made up the floor, wall and ceiling. A continuous melding of the three, ever moving, ever-changing.
Out of that section, Dejal formed out of the ground, and kneeled.
The other two sections though, making up two-thirds of the room, were lightless and dark. As if the green torch’s light refused to shine upon them.
(“Do you accept…Us?…We can make you strong.”) The voices offered once again, but Erik ignored them.
Instead he chanted, “Wielder of the everflame, life which gives fire and fire through which gained life. Fierve, I your master, summon you. Awaken.”
Another one-third of the room lit up, crimson blazes bursting alit as the ground, walls and ceiling suddenly melted into magma. And among those flames, burning earth and smouldering heat, a figure formed.
Canine in form, but winged and entirely made of an ember flame. Fierve had coal-black eyes and fangs, three tails each ending in a set of claws, and a single straight horn with a spiralling pattern but made entirely of glowing volcanic rock. It kneeled respectfully before Erik. “At your command, my lord.” The elemental’s booming voice said.
“Caster of living light, born of storm and sibling to thunder. Voltru, I summon you as well. Awaken!” Erik chanted once more, and the last section of the room lit up.
Lightning surged through the wall as dark grey clouds formed out of the floor and ceiling, both striking surges of electricity into one another in an unending storm. Until several strikes collided in mid-air, shining brightly for several moments before slowly fading out, revealing a third elemental.
Like Fierve, Voltru was far from humanoid, and instead took the likings of a serpent. Its body was made of pitch black clouds through which pure white lightning surged, its four eyes glowing a bright white on either of its body’s end, as the creature had two heads and no tail.
Voltru couldn’t kneel, so instead it made an effort to bow both of its heads down before Erik. “At-t-t your ssservice, massst-t-ter.” The being stuttered and hissed.
(“You dare…face my test again…Dragon?”) The sword’s voices suddenly merged, as the being within emerged, annoyed at being ignored.
Erik though, continued to ignore it further.
(“You dar-”) It tried to say once more…
“Silence.” Erik hissed, and the Lair around him shuddered.
The being within the sword, obeyed.
“To hell with your test, to hell with you, keeper. Your power is mine, and you shall do as I say or be dismantled, for I will have no use for you if you do not compromise.” Erik growled in warning, “Has this…Dragon…Made itself clear?”
(“Y-Yes…”) The voice timidly responded.
“Good choice…” Erik hissed, taking a deep breath before raising his newly tamed blade towards his guardians. “I say no more. Hell, has perverted this realm for long enough. Its minions…followers and people…Its very presence, I swear to wipe off the face of Faetera. For everything…its done to me…for everything it has done, final. No more, I will lose…nothing more. I will not lose…Anybody else.” his fury flowing out with his now enhanced voice.
As he opened his wings wide, lightning surging wildly through them. Every word he spoke, rushing through the walls and pavement. His voice reaching the highest heights and deepest depths of his Lair.
As the ground beneath him melted away, quickly disappearing before reappearing above him. Until, he fell into another room entirely.
Erik fell out of the ceiling of one of his training caverns, the one where the rebel camp was situated.
Shining brightly like a sun and gaining the attention of all, as each of his Lair guardians appeared beside him.
“I am Erikathyr, Guardian of Nature’s Spirit, Destroyer of the weak and foolish…Slayer of Azruxan the Brute, Slayer of Delirio the traitor!” Erik roared out.
“Slaves, Pirates, Thieves and Bandits. I welcome you all, to the birth of a new empire…”
“For be it Xilfir, be it Human or Bestia. Be it even Dwarves or Mer. All are welcome.”
“And be it hell, or even heaven…nothing will stand in our way!”
“Nothing…will stand in this Dragon Empire’s way.”