Eleven hours later
Erik stood before several piles of slayer equipment, each placed in accordance to colour and make. “Is this all?” He asked Pyra who had retrieved the equipment he had asked for.
“Yes, this is every piece we managed to recover from the Sin Wyrms we fought.” Pyra answered whilst standing at attention with her knights, a frightened expression about them as they tried to keep up a serious one. Erik was highly annoyed at the moment, all of them could easily see it, and nobody dared frustrate him further.
“Good, stand by.” He said coldly, leaving them to stand at attention as he himself moved to stand surrounded by the piles of equipment. Taking a deep breath, as he raised his hands aside, then suddenly clenching them into fists.
“To the long lost these words I direct, to the long fallen and dead I speak to. Heed me, for permission is all I ask for. Dragons of before, Spirits of now, I purge these pieces of your being from the curses set upon them. I free your bodies from enslavement, but ask for them to be used just a little longer.” Erik chanted, his draconic voice shaking the very air around him as a dim gold light oozed out of his body.
Tendrils from the light delved into each pile, the gold suddenly flaring brightly and taking on whatever colour the pile held. The light’s brightness dimmed as it grew, taking shape, and like illusions a dozen Draconic figures now hovered around Erik.
“You need not ask, Erikathyr, for we have been watching.” Spoke a dark blue Dragon with bright silver eyes, “We judge your cause as just, your actions as acceptable. If our claws and fangs, our hide and bones…are to be used in any way here in the realm of the living, then be it battle, be it war for the safeguard of Faetera!” It exclaimed, and the rest of the spirits nodded in agreement.
Erik nodded back, then moved to kneel…
But a White Dragon raised its ethereal claw at him, one he recognised. “You need not bow, brother. You are Dragon now, we are equals.” He said.
“Ziethei…” Erik spoke his elder brother’s name, then rising to meet his gaze head on. His mouth opened, by no words came. He had so much to say, so much to ask yet…
Ziethei shook his head, “Let there be words between us later, once we are both of the same form. But now, Erikathyr, you have a role to play and destiny waits for no one. I wish you safety on your journey to come, brother, I wish that the Spirits all watch over you.”
Erik nodded, and watched in silence as the souls of the fallen Dragons dissipated. Leaving him alone again with his Dreadblades. “The Spirits watch me already brother…But not a move they shall make, not a move they have ever made.” Erik mused, turning to face Pyra and her handful of knights behind him. “Destiny waits for no one, and Deities only serve themselves. Remember that well.” He said coldly, before starting to walk towards the hall’s large doorway.
“Gather the officers, we’ll divvy out the equipment as planned!” Pyra shouted in command, sending three of her knights off while the rest stood with her, watching Erik leave.
The three chosen messengers waiting for him to exit the hall, before they rushed down the corridor themselves to complete their orders. The three knights rushing past Makaela, Ivyieth and Ascal who waited for Erik outside.
“How are they?” Erik asked Makaela as he came to stand before them.
“Thea is resting alongside Kayle, I placed Zentha and her best to watch over them.” Makaela reported in, but then changing her tone from that of an underling, “So, what now? We lost all the siege equipment we stole off the convoy and so much damn resources I’d cry if I actually counted it all…” to her usual overly friendly tone.
Erik didn’t notice her change of attitude, his cold blank eyes only glancing over her as he continued to walk past them. “The siege equipment doesn’t matter, the resources we can refill on while we wipe Lahihr off the map. As for equipment for the soldiers…” Erik stopped in his tracks, turning to look at Ascal. “Gather the best and brightest we have, the distinguished of either Dreadblade or Rebel who have not been chosen to join the Dragon Knights.”
“Uh, sure I’ll do just that but…” Ascal said as he faltered under the Dragon’s frigid gaze, “To where and why?”
A wicked grin suddenly grew over Erik as his eyes widened with what was unmistakably madness. “To the armoury, of course.” He said simply, then turning around to continue walking off.
“Armoury? He doesn’t…mean…” Ascal mumbled as each of them stared after him frozen in surprise.
“Makaela, come.” Erik called on her as he reached a tightly locked doorway, bars of black metal forming a gate ahead of the stone doors, doors which were etched in bright blue glowing runes.
“Just…do as he says.” Makaela whispered her brother before she walked over to Erik, and Ivyieth curiously followed her. “Erik what are you-” Makaela was going to ask, but he left her no time as he loudly pushed the doors open. The black bars disappearing at his touch and the runes suddenly flaring a bright gold as the doors opened.
Revealing the massive corridor Erik called his armoury.
“What am I doing? Simple really, my lair was invaded with ease, and with just as much ease a guest under MY roof was abducted. I shall NOT let that stand. And there is absolutely NO point in keeping these treasures unused if they aren’t even SAFE!” Erik stated with clear hate in his tone, mana leaking out with every burst of rage that came with his words. Raising his hands forward and open wide, two objects suddenly flew out of separate halls and into a hand each.
A silver chain of metal, like a necklace.
And a bright teal gem shaped like a six-pointed star.
“This,” Erik said as he held up the chain, “Is a Binding Amulet, it will bind any gem to your soul. If it is stolen from you, the chain and the gem will turn to ash and become useless…” then raising the gem towards the chain, “The gem in question will be this. Its last, now deceased owner, called it a Lode Stone. It empowers the spiritual capabilities of the creature it is in spiritual contact with. Seeing as we’ll be facing Spirit Beasts who greatly outmatch even your kind in Spiritual quality and control…I thought this would suit you well for the battle to come.”
Erik touched the gem to the chain and the hoops of silver suddenly stuck to the crystal, melding into it and becoming a single item. He handed the amulet to Makaela, who silently took it in her hands.
She felt nothing, she sensed nothing from the gem, if only something strange from the chain…But when she put it around her neck it was like a whole new world had opened up before her eyes. Her senses were overshadowed by a whole new feeling, a feeling she attributed to what must have made Shizuka lose her mind during her first moments on Sinroz land.
Makaela felt it all.
Ivyieth’s curiosity nearby.
And…right before her…burning just as bright as the sun.
Was Erik’s blinding rage.
So much information suddenly barraged her that for a moment, she thought she was going to pass out. But Makaela held steady, focusing on her other senses, the emotions she literally felt like heat radiating into her mind slowly began to dim out. Until finally the sense was nothing more than a minor feeling at the back of her mind, a minor annoyance as long as she didn’t focus on it.
“That…that was…” Makaela had no words to explain what she had just witnessed, never before had she felt something so vividly through any sense. Something so strong that it seemed even more real than her eye-sight itself.
“That was the range of your third eye growing in power.” Erik said before turning away, “Now I should probably pick a few things for Thea…Nerick doesn’t need anything else and…” He mused before glancing back at Ivyieth who stood staring at him, very clearly wanting something too. “Take…your pick.” He tentatively told her, and the drake’s frown immediately changed into a joyful grin as she ran off down the hall.
“Speaking of Thea…” Makaela suddenly said as she watched Ivyieth run off, “I think you’re wrong Erik, I can’t let it wait any longer…I have to face her.” She said with a bitter tone.
Erik glanced back at her, “If you think that is best, then you know where to find her. I will not interfere unless things get dangerous. Which, knowing the two of you, it won’t.”
Makaela smirked coldly, “How do you know? How do you know I wouldn’t just kill her like I did with her mother and be done with the issue?” She asked, her eyes turning barren as she met his inspecting gaze.
“Makaela, I like to think myself an expert on judging others, I am a Dragon after all.” Erik said as he turned to stare down the corridor, “And you might be a killer, you might be somewhat cruel, some would even say evil. But you’re not cold hearted, you’re not detached from emotion. If anything, your emotions rule over you, and you allow them to because you enjoy the rush they give you. You’re wicked, but you’re not one who would mercilessly kill someone they look up to.”
His words, delved deep into Makaela, as her cold gaze turned into an amused smile. “Yeah, I am cruel.” She said in elven, as she silently walked up to his turned back. Raising her right palm to barely touching him.
Makaela spoke softly,“I sometimes wish I was cold hearted though. Then I could take it all…take it all for myself and have no regrets. Have no guilt.” as she grabbed onto his shoulders and raised herself on her tip-toes. The closeness, filling Erik with that strange feeling he had felt before, once more.
Now noticing, Erik noticing that the feeling he felt, was fear.
Fear of growing close to someone, fear of letting anyone closer to his core, than he already had.
It filled him, cold and dreadful, as she knocked at his walls. Walls he had unconsciously built around his own heart.
As her cold lips met a patch of scaly-skin on his right cheek, “I choose my people, Erik. But I’m greedy, I want it all~” She whispered into his ear, as her breasts softly pushed onto his back. “And one day…I will make you mine too~” She said, as her entire form dissipated into shadow.
Leaving him alone with himself, alone with his turning and twisting thoughts.
Erik walked through the halls, picking out pieces of equipment to make up a full suit of white-blue armour alongside a set of magical accessories to go with. The pieces hovering in mid-air behind him as he walked.
Silently, he walked.
Alone until Ivyieth walked out of the Fae hall with a massive two-edged sword three times her own size. A blade of dark green wood etched with intersecting runes, a hilt of branches and leaves and a grip of coiling vines. The weapon was huge, yet she held it over her shoulder effortlessly.
“Elder brother I pick this!” She exclaimed in excitement, suddenly lowering the weapon down to the floor between them and shattering the paved ground with the sword’s great weight.
Erik’s expression twitched with confusion as he stared down at young Ivyieth, who smiled…but had an obvious expression of annoyance.
Three hours later, into the next day.
Makaela stepped out of shadow form as she stood before the door, the entrance to where they were resting. Eyes closed as she took a deep breath, calming her nerves before pushing the door open. Finding herself in the kitchen, where Nerick sat at the table.
Silent, as his cold gaze turned to face her. The eyes of a beast within him, as the wyvern on the table woke to stare at her too. “So, you’re finally going to talk to them?” Nerick asked, an obvious tone of hostility about him.
(“He knows too…”) Makaela thought as she walked past his chair, “Yes.” She said simply.
As Nerick suddenly rose to stand in her way.
Makaela chuckled, “What is it? Have you finally grown a pair?” she mused.
But Nerick’s cold gaze was unaffected, “I did not like you before, I like you less now. I may trust Erik, and he and she might trust you. But I never have, I never will. She might forgive you, but I never will.” He warned her, then stepping out of her way. “Watch yourself, Xilfir, because I will be watching you.” He said as Ivara hopped onto his shoulder, the wyvern hissing at Makaela as she continued to walk past them.
“How reassuring.” Makaela sighed, “And here I thought you were just a wimp in armour. Power really does get to you Human’s heads.” She said with a smirk, glancing back at his still stoic expression.
“Enough, the both of you.” Thea suddenly said as she opened the door, each of them getting a peek of Kayle within, awake and sitting quietly on the bed. Thea stepped into the kitchen and closed the door behind her.
First, she looked at Nerick. “She asked for you.” Thea said, and Nerick’s previously cold eyes lit up. His appearance’s sense of strength turning fragile and nervous, as he walked over to the door. Swallowing hard, Nerick then opened the door and stepped inside.
Seeing Kayle as her gaze rose to look at him, weak eyes and pale skin, but a friendly smile nonetheless. “Who-Wait…Nerick?” Kayle guessed, as her eyes suddenly turned empty white, before returning to their normal form.
Nerick was confused by what had just occurred, but even more so by how quickly she recognised him…He was after all, nowhere the same human he used to be.
“Ah…haha…Sorry about that.” Kayle said, raising her right hand to cover her eyes, “It’s been happening ever since I…woke up. The stone thing, Dejal was it? Said that it’s a side effect of escaping Risera’s power…” then peeking from under her palm she took another look at him. “I guess…we’ve both changed a lot.” She said, still smiling warmly.
Nerick nodded nervously, he could see the pain in her eyes, he could see right through the smile she put up to cover it all. Clenching his fists, as he stared down at her with firm eyes. Ivara sensed his uneasiness, then leaping off his shoulder and onto the bed nearby Kayle, who was strangely unfazed by the terrifying creature approaching her.
Ivara prowled the sheets around Kayle as she watched the wyvern back, sensing the demonic energy that lay within Kayle cautiously Ivara kept her distance. But seeing how her master looked at Kayle, and feeling what he felt. The wyvern let its guard down, and approached the woman further.
No larger than a cat, Ivara sat next to Kayle, staring up at her with curious eyes.
Kayle smiled back at the wyvern, “Aren’t you…back then?…” Kayle mused as she slowly lowered her hand onto the wyvern’s head. Her eyes suddenly emptying of colour once more, “Ah, Ivara…I see.” She mused, petting the wyvern as her eyes turned back to normal.
Ivara did not complain, instead the wyvern happily nuzzled into her hand whilst purring loudly.
Seeing this, Nerick smiled for the first time today. (“It’s my turn,”) Nerick thought as he watched them, (“It’s my turn to be there for you. It’s my turn to protect you now.”) He promised himself, resolve filling him as he glanced back at Thea.
She smiled at him, “Take your time…we’ll be a while.” Thea said, closing the door behind him.
Thea stood where she was, still holding the door’s handle. Silent and unmoving, Thea just stood there, facing the door.
As Makaela stared at her back.
“What have we come to?” Thea then suddenly said in a whisper.
Makaela chuckled, “Fate is a cruel mistress alright.” Shifting awkwardly where she stood.
As Thea turned to face her, Makaela expected to see hate within her eyes.
Makaela wanted to see rage.
She wanted to see a murderous gaze within Thea’s eyes.
But instead, Thea looked at her with calm and friendly eyes. Filling Makaela with frustration. “Do you not hate me now?” Makaela asked her.
Thea shook her head, “I did, I hated you for a while…But that was the shock, that was before. I’m not my father, I will not make the mistakes he did. I will not let hate define who and what I am.”
Makaela’s eyes narrowed and turned cold, as her lips quivered with annoyance. “I killed your mother, Selene.” She stated coldly.
“You did, but the reasons define the means, Makaela. You did it to save your sister, and I’m sure my mother did not resist. That’s just the kind of person she was.” Thea said softly, continuing to smile as her gaze fell. “It wasn’t your fault Makaela, Risera…No, Azkel orchestrated it al-”
“Shut up…” Makaela suddenly cut her off, Thea’s gaze rising to meet Makaela’s cold wide eyes.
(“Why? Why are you like this?”) Makaela thought, “Does it matter? In the end it was my blade, tearing through her skin, breaking through her bones and piercing her heart. Her blood, is on my hands!” Makaela exclaimed.
Thea’s smile faltered briefly, but quickly returned, as she approached Makaela. “You killed her, that is something you have to live with. And I’m sure, one day, you’ll redeem yourself in her eyes. I know you will Makaela.” She said calmly.
Makaela shook her head, (“Why? Why are you not furious?”) she thought. “How? How do you know I’ll ever do something so grand?” But again, she asked something else.
Thea stopped before her, “Because you’re something I’m not, you’re strong Makaela, you’re very strong.”
(“No…”) Makaela wanted to say, (“No I’m not strong…Power is nothing compared to…what you are…You’re the strong one dammit! If our…if our places were switched I…I would have hated and killed you without hesitation!”) Makaela thought, (“Dammit Thea…”)
Seeing a tear sneak its way down Makaela’s cheek as she tried her best to hold them in, Thea raised her hand and wiped it off. “We can’t be stuck on our past…would be something he would say. We have someone to save, and many to defeat. So let’s focus on that now, okay?” She said softly, and with that same friendly smile of hers, as she walked past Makaela.
Makaela’s eyes followed her, (“Your words may be stronger than mine…your heart vaster too…but…”) she thought as she watched Thea reach the living quarter’s exit, opening the door and revealing the large corridor beyond.
“I won’t lose.” Makaela suddenly said, causing her to stop in her steps.
Thea chuckled weakly at her words.
Glancing back at Makaela briefly, “Neither will I.” she then said with a wide grin, before leaving the room.
At the same time
Erik waited at the armoury’s entrance alongside Ivyieth and his three guardians. Each looking menacing at his side, as several dozen fighters approached from one end of the corridor with Ascal and Pyra at their lead.
He turned to face them as they reached him, Ivyieth almost knock Fierv aside with her massive blade as she turned too. The large ablaze hound having to duck under the weapon.
Pyra and Ascal stopped, and when they did, so did the rest behind them. A loose formation of rebels, and a few dreadblades among them. Erik opened his wings wide, and with a single powerful beat he soared up several feet off the ground. Continuing to beat his wings, Erik hovered over them as he inspected each warrior, ranger and mage.
The rebel’s expressions turning nervous and anxious under his scrutiny.
He recognised a few of them, mainly a few rebels he had singled out during the break out at Ai’sen. Erik regarded all of them as he spoke though, “You all have been chosen out of your many brothers and sisters, to serve a greater purpose than just foot soldiers. On the field, you have shown to be exceptional at your art, singled out by my captains or myself for the skill and experience you all possess. You all have been seen for the potential you have, I now offer you to unlock that potential and gain even greater power. Powers to use in the name of your people, in the name of this kingdom we shall build together.”
Silence filled the crowd of soldiers, each wondering what this Dragon was offering…or was about to do to them.
Erik flew over to the barred door, then rested his palm onto it. The metal bars again disappearing from sight as the doors opened for him. “Beyond this doorway, lies my vast collection of magical artefacts, weapons and armour I have collected over the ages…You each get…One.” He strained to say the words, “Select wisely, for each item beyond here holds both great power…and an even greater danger. For both your enemy, and yourselves.”
Tentatively the rebels crowded the entrance, each gazing down the dimly lit hallway riddled with eerie archways. Looking like the entrance to a dungeon of horrors to each of them.
Even so, still many stepped forth. Either too proud to be afraid, too experienced to care…or like Kailu, too filled with cold emotion to know that he should be. As he stepped through the doorway alongside many others, mainly surrounded by Tania, Jin and their lackeys himself.
“Is this…like…for real?” Tania whispered, “We get a picking at a Dragon’s treasury? Did we die? Are we in heaven?” she said anxiously, giving glances at Erik as he watched over them all with careful eyes, as did his guardians who flew about the armoury around them.
The rebels though had gathered at the centre of the corridor, as even the most fearless were faltering at the thought of being the first to step into one of the halls and choosing something.
Erik sighed at the sight, then suddenly beating his wings and soaring into one of the halls.
Into the Elven hall, before flying back out with a weapon in hand. Erik inspected the weapon briefly as he glided down to the ground before them. “This, is an Elven-made Woad Glaive called Kenveil’s Glaive. It is a magical weapon which absorbs the excess mana of all magical spells cast in its vicinity. When full the user can then unleash the gathered mana into either a shockwave of destructive flames, or a burst of healing energies.” Erik explained, before walking over to Tania who seemed the most reluctant.
He raised the glaive towards the ex-bandit, “It is yours now.” He said, his cold gaze upon her as Tania lay entrance by the beautiful weapon.
She dropped her spear aside, then took hold of the glaive’s grip. “Mine?…” she repeated in question, but when she pulled on it she found that Erik’s iron-grip on the weapon was unmoving…His expression twitching briefly before he finally let go.
Awkwardly, Tania took the weapon, running her fingers over the expertly carved wooden staff till she reached the gleaming green blade.
“And each of you get one, so what are you waiting for?” Erik said, raising his arms to either side of himself and gesturing at the armoury as a whole. “Your destiny awaits.” He said, “But it is you who has to grasp and grip onto it tightly.”
The rebels needed no further invitation, as each scrambled about the armoury, many excited and other trying to hide it as they searched the Dragon’s treasury for a weapon or artefact of choice. And as they did they found that the treasury’s contents each lay hovering in line, unguarded and seemingly awaiting a new master within them.
Kailu though, as many others, was unsure of where to start. The thought of gaining greater power intrigued him considerably, but unlike Jin who rushed into the closest Dwarven hall and came out piloting a massive humanoid mechanized suit, he wanted his one choice to be unmistakeable.
Kailu no longer wanted to be a foot soldier, and he was just given the opportunity of a life time. An opportunity he would not dare waste…
He stood there, watching the rest picking out and showing off their weapons, as guardians and a seemingly annoyed Erik explained their ability and use to them.
For several moments, Kailu silently stood there…
As the whispers suddenly began to hiss around him…
Forming no words, nothing he could comprehend as a language…but voices they were and whisper they did.
Glancing about, nobody else but him seemed to notice the voices, making him wonder if they were just in his head.
He did not understand what the voices were saying, but as he looked around they grew more agitated. Seemingly moving with his gaze, the sound then suddenly came from a singular direction.
As if leading him, as if telling him where to go…
And Kailu followed.
As the voices hissed and whispered, images from his past began to suddenly blur into Kailu’s sight.
Kailu followed the voices down the corridor, silently walking through the crowd of rebels as they ignored his entranced face as he passed them by. Kailu suddenly realised he couldn’t break off from his current path anymore, that he had completely lost control over his own body.
Unable to do anything but watch as images of his past played out, blurring in and out from the reality before him.
He continued to walk, remaining calm as his curiosity took over.
Seeing his entire village burning before him at one second.
Then the corridor’s last halls another second, finding himself turning into the eeriest one. Kailu stepped into the Dark Ages hall, finding himself surrounded by masses of cloth and chains. Objects that lay sealed and covered from sight, telling him just how dangerous each must be.
Anybody else would have turned away that instant, turned off by the sight itself.
But not just because Kailu was entranced and unable to control his body…He wanted to know, he needed to know as the voices grew clearer.
(“Nobody, will stand in your way again.”) The voices said, as he entered.
Then for a second seeing a dozen of his people being torched alive by a Sin Wyrm’s flames.
(“Nothing will hurt you ever again.”) They told him softly, as he approached one covered object.
For a moment, he saw the images of several mercenaries standing over him, kicking and beating him into submission.
(“No more pain, no more anger and hate.”) They offered him, as he stopped before a long black staff with something covered and chained at its top end. The staff itself wasn’t straight, it was bent strangely. Not by accident or seemingly made in a hurry, but seemingly bent with purpose as the carvings that riddled it showed too much skill to be by mistake…
The carvings depicted a process, he noticed, as he had no choice but to inspect them.
The process began from the bottom, where a seed hatched open.
The seed then grew, forming a plant that finally found its way out of the dirt.
The plant then grew further, bearing fruit and flower, leaves and vines.
The plant was glorious, basking in the sun.
The plant was alive, as it bathed in the rain.
But the plant was growing old, as it began to dry up.
The plant rotted, losing its flowers and fruits, as its leaves and vines turned to dust.
And at the very top of the staff, carved into the black wood was the last depiction…
The plant had been cut, severed at the root.
But what had cut it, was never depicted in the carvings.
Kailu then saw his own hand reach out to the staff, seeing his hand open and slowly come to grasping it…
When suddenly someone else’s hand grabbed the weapon, and Kailu snapped out of his daze. Finally regaining control over his own body, Kailu turned to find Erik stand next to him and holding the large staff.
Erik gazed at the staff, then up at the rest that lay covered and chained. “So…you have chosen your master too.” He mused, then turning to gaze at Kailu. “But him?…Very well, I won’t argue.” He said, as Kailu took a step back.
Erik grasped the chains and they suddenly dissipated, he then gripped the black cloth that covered the rest of the weapon. “What is your name?” He asked the young Xilfir in elven.
“Kailu.” The boy said, retaining a calm expression even when faced with the Dragon. Then noticing the crowd that had begun to gather around them.
Seeing his calm, Erik sighed. “This weapon has chosen you, Kailu. I will warn you though, that this weapon is like no other. This weapon offers some of the greatest power within my collection, but it is a picky servant, and for a very dangerous reason.” He warned, then tearing off the black cloth and revealing the weapon fully.
Erik raised the pitch-black scythe before him and towards Kailu, as its long and curved blade vibrated with dark energy “This, is a Reaper’s Scythe, the weapon Death God’s offspring. Made in the heavens, for the sole purpose of harvesting souls and damning life. I found this weapon within a dead land, a forgotten place. And its user was nowhere to be found, the Reapers have long been killed off by an unknown force during the Dark Ages, so it had nobody to wield it…it wouldn’t even allow me to. Yet…it has chosen you, Kailu.”
Erik let go of the scythe, and it hovered in place, even turning for Kailu to take it. “This weapon is powerful, Kailu, but beware of the price. It will drain your lifeline, to give you power. It will suck your time on this world in return for allowing you to use it. Personally, I wouldn’t dare wield it even if it let me. But I shall leave that decision up to you.” Erik told him, then stepped away.
Kailu stared down at the scythe, looking over the carvings once more until he reached the blade. Realising what had cut the plant, and the carving’s meaning.
(“Everything dies…”) Kailu thought, and the voices suddenly returned.
(“Snatch your fate, child of shadow. Grasp it, before someone else takes it all away!”) The voices said, and as they did Kailu heard it.
He heard the sound he had wanted to forget.
Kailu heard the screams of his mother and sisters…
And he grasped the scythe, the weapon’s size changing to meet his needs. The rage and hate he felt at that moment, suddenly dissipating, as his heart was filled with an easing calm.
“There is no going back now Kailu, you are a Reaper now.” Erik warned, then turning away and walking off from the scene.
Leaving Kailu with his comrades and thoughts.
Walking out of the Dark Ages hall, Erik was met with Thea as she stared at the young boy wielding the most wicked looking weapon she had ever seen.
“Erik what is…going on here?” She asked with wide eyes.
“He’s making monsters, obviously.” Ivyieth said as she suddenly appeared out of nowhere, dragging her massive sword behind her like a beloved toy.
“I’m giving them options, as I did with you, Nerick and Shizuka.” Erik said, “Come with me.” He then told them before walking off. Ivyieth immediately followed, but Thea dragged behind as she took one last glance at the eerie scythe.
“I thought these were your…treasures?” Thea asked as she caught up with their quick stride.
“They are, but I’m giving them a use.” Erik responded as they stopped, finding themselves at the centre of the corridor. “And here are yours.” He then said, waving his right hand towards her as a full set of light blue armour appeared hovering before her, followed by several varying accessories.
Thea was speechless at the sight, she couldn’t even begin to guess at all their worth much less what magical capabilities they must have. “You’re pulling all the stops…aren’t you?”
“I’m just done holding back.” Erik said, turning to face the other end of the corridor. “Dejal, Fierv, Voltru.” He then called out, and each Guardian flew to stand before him.
“Is it finally time, master?” Dejal asked.
“Yes, it is.” Erik answered simply, as the floor before them lowered, opening into a large staircase taking below.
“Time for what?” Thea asked, “What is…down there?”
“Down there is the summoning room for each of my guardians, and I’m about to summon my fourth.” Erik said, then beginning to descend. They followed him.
“Master, then shall you finally unveil it?” Fierv asked, the canine elemental rushing ahead.
“Yesss! It-t-t isss finally t-t-time!” Voltru hissed as it flew about them.
“Elder brother…what are they speaking of?” Ivyieth asked, curious and confused herself. “Unveil what?”
“You shall see.” Erik said simply, as they reached the staircase’s end. Coming to stand before a room of separated elements.
One afire like a volcano’s interior.
One an ever-moving flow of earth and vines.
And the third, a raging storm of electricity.
Erik stopped at the doorway, and each guardian moved to stand in their element.
“Dejal, expand the room.” Erik said, and Dejal’s form suddenly froze like a statue.
As the room around them began to grow before them, widening into a larger circle and creating a fourth plain and empty section.
“Long ago…when I wanted to rule over this world as a mortal God…I created something to aid me in doing so.” Erik began to tell them, as he walked into the room. “I then just needed one last Elemental to make it soar. But young as I was, my Lair could only handle three guardians…” Erik said, coming to stand over the new empty section.
He turned to face them, “But I’ve awoken, I’m a Dragon now. No longer a Drake, I will awaken my creation in turn. I’m done hoping the Gods will get their mess together, I’m done hoping Nature’s Spirit will intervene.” Erik raised his arms before himself and began to chant.
“Whisperer of breeze, caller of storm. I summon you to my side, I bind you to my home and lair. Come, whirling winds. Come, raging hurricane.” Erik chanted, and the air around him suddenly began to spin. A whirlwind formed all around him, suddenly taking him into its grasp and raising him off the ground.
“I hear your call, summoner.” A harmonic voice came, echoing and repeating itself as the whirlwind suddenly opened up, the flowing winds glowing a dim green and forming wings larger than even Erik’s. “To serve a Dragon, I accept this contract.” The Elemental said as it took a vulpine form.
“Speak your name, Greater Wind Elemental.” Erik commanded as the creature stood before him and at the room’s centre.
The fox bowed, “Xeyl is my name, and how might I be of service?” it asked.
Erik waved his right hand before himself and the elemental dissipated from his way, then reforming behind him. “Dejal, raise the curtains and form us a path to the outside. The rest of you, show the newcomer their role.” He ordered them, and the four elementals dissipated from sight.
He turned back to the rest, walking to stand with them as the stairs suddenly changed. The steps melded back into the ground as the tunnel heading upward closed up. In the stair’s place, a new tunnel formed before them, taking far ahead into darkness.
Erik moved first, his eyes shining brightly and showing the way. “Come, if you wish to know what I had created.” He said, then Thea and Ivyieth followed.
They followed him as he lit the way through the still-forming tunnel, as everything around them shook and trembled. Erik began to fly his way through, but Thea and Ivyieth were left to stumble as everything quaked.
And for several moments they did just that, falling to their knees several times on the way.
Until the tunnel ahead broke open, and the moonlight beyond reached inside.
Erik flew out and landed on the paved black ground, the shaking and trembling stopping right then. Thea and Ivyieth cautiously also made their way outside, finding themselves on a road.
Then glancing at the road’s other side as an avalanche of stone suddenly flew down from above.
Seeing that…beyond the other side of the road, beyond the railing was a drop…
The both of them walked over to the edge, and Thea gasped at what she saw.
The road’s end wasn’t just a drop…
The road’s end was the edge of the floating piece of land that they now stood on, and it was rising higher with every passing second.
She stepped back and turned around, looking up at the massive castle of black stone that lay over the mountain they had just come out of.
“Every people…Every king, needs a kingdom.” Erik said, turning to gaze at the castle himself, then looking down the road they stood on which took around the mountain. He gestured for them to follow, as he tread down the sloped road. “And this, this is my creation. Both a weapon, and a fortress.” He explained as a breeze suddenly picked up around them, raising the three of them off the ground and into the sky.
Thea’s expression paled severely as they rose, seeing the floating island beneath them more clearly now.
A great stretch of land lay before her, oval in shape and seemingly carved out of the world with precision. Now floating in mid-air, and held up by a massive serpent made of dark clouds whilst raging winds blew all around the island. Growing out of the island’s centre was a mountain with a castle built on top, and to either the left and right and out of the mountain grew a town of the same black stone as the castle.
Erik raised his right hand forth, and a blaze suddenly surrounded the island. “With Voltru and Xeyl making it soar and move. Then Dejal and Fierv to give it shape.” He said, and the ground on the island’s edge rose and formed walls, the flame seemingly entering the rock and changing it into the black stone that the kingdom was made of.
“This, will be both our city, and our warship!” Erik exclaimed, his voice echoing throughout the island, reaching the confused and gathering rebels he now saw roaming the town below. “I give you our kingdom. I give you the palace that shall not be forgotten, I give you the roads that you shall tread, I give you the houses you shall live in and the walls that you shall protect. My people, this is your new home.” He said, turning to look at a gasping Thea and an overly excited Ivyieth.
“This, is The Dark Citadel of Dragon Empire.” Erik growled, then raising his right hand towards one of the many rifts that riddle one side of town, the rifts Kyllix had opened. Suddenly each distortion of reality shuddered, and each rift melded into the other.
“Widen the path to elsewhere, no key is needed. Ajar the door,” Erik chanted, “Open to a new tomorrow, from this day that shall pass. Draconic School; Drako; Lair; Rift Manipulation.” And as he chanted the powerful spell, the rifts which had joined into one distortion, moved to his command.
The warping light that was the now singular rift, soared out of the town and into the sky before him. Briefly Erik gazed through the bubbling, twisting light, as its colours changed.
When the distortion’s colours settled from the previous mixture, to a singular dark grey, it then flew off.
The distortion rippled into the sky, stopping several meters off the island’s edge and suddenly expanding as Erik opened his hand.
Forming a massive portal, a circular tunnel in reality which reflected what lay on the other side…
And within the liquid-like circle of light was the reflection of a grey, stonewalled, city.
“On to tomorrow. On to where our people lay enslaved and broken. On to destiny, for it waits for no one.” Erik exclaimed, and Voltru below began to move.
The dark clouds that made up the Elemental serpent’s body flashed with lightning and rumbled with thunder as it moved.
And as Voltru moved, so did the entire island on its back.
Erik, Thea and Ivyieth landed on the island’s walls. Standing closest to the portal as they approached it. Next to them appeared Makaela and her retinue out of a burst of shadows, and then Kayle suddenly popping out of nowhere with Nerick who’s arm she held onto.
They watched in silence as the portal’s edge shuddered on contact with the island, the wall of shimmering light then seemingly absorbing the land as if it was sinking into a sea of reflective water.
They watched the portal grow nearer to themselves, as the island continued to sink deeper.
Nerick being the first to step…fall through, as Ivara suddenly flew out of nowhere and rammed straight into his back.
(“Master left me behind! Master cruel! Bad master!”) Ivara exclaimed through their bond as she nibbled onto his ear, but Nerick simply groaned as he rose from the brick floor. Standing back up, he found that they were on the other side now.
“Is that…” Ascal said as he stared at the city surrounded by a calm desert.
“Yes,” Erik said as he stepped to stand at the wall’s edge. “That, is Lahihr.”
Indeed it was, in mere moments they had reached the city of slaves.
And within those mere moments.
The Dragon Empire, had begun its invasion of Sinbeni.