I looked around the room, my eyelids feeling like they weighed more than a maggot’s rump. I watched as Tyvernos, Gavin and Cava run around the Mage’s lair like kids in a confectioner’s kitchen. I noticed that the Warlock had the blue diamond, which he pocketed, and was carrying Osiris’ finger like a scepter as he pranced around the basement room. He had a strange glint in his eyes; haughtier than his usual playful expressions. I watched him sprint toward the largest circle in the room and blinked.
And when I woke up Alric,, Karma, and Otto were awake. I got to my feet, and greeted CrIsis. I was feeling refreshed and ready to lead a charge on Çynopolis itself. I took in the feeling in the room, and got the distinct impression something was going to happen; like the way the air feels on the beach before a storm rolls in off the sea. The eye of the storm was Tyvernos, and I could feel the winds of readiness shifting all around.
I decided to flank the gnome. I snuck around the couch, coming in behind him, and he didn’t notice me; I was within reach of his petite form. Cava and Overkill confronted him with all of his past behavioral issues, and how the headdress he’s been wearing is officially ‘off-putting.’ I saw the little guy’s muscles tense, ready to launch into action, and I swung the handle of my pike to knock off the headdress. My battle-honed accuracy set for it, there was nothing that will stop the blow – except for magic! The gnome disappeared mid-swing. Blast! The arc slices clean through empty air, my muscles compensating for the denial of expected impact.
Immediately I ran to the little door that was the only escape from the room. I know I am faster than him, so I confidently took position outside, ready to stop any unseen escape artist. I watched the group of ‘magically-sensitives’, which all concurred he was heading toward an inconspicuous empty wall. Cava called out that there was a second exit. Dread came and left instantaneously as I decided to run up to the only exit of the basement; the door at the top of the stairs. I saw Cava exiting the hidden doorway at a glance as I rushed past.
I was fairly positive he couldn’t tunnel out without us noticing, and we didn’t find any hidden doors on the floor above to the basement, so I stood guard loyally, confidently. I heard yelling from down below, from what I could tell it was Cava trying to barter for yet ANOTHER piece of Osiris in exchange for the headdress. Tyvernos counter offered, and my stomach clenched. His voice was shockingly close – coming from mid-air.
Sympathy weaving itself into my battle-readiness, and I yelled to the dark, gloomy space high above the stairs and hallway floor, my voice echoed across the cold void, ’Tyvernos, My friend!! Please, come back to us! We cannot lose time with this; I did not want this to turn out this way!’ Almost whispered I said, ‘I don’t know if I can do this anymore.’ Silence was my reply, and became my companion. I waited for a few minutes, and Alric came up the stairs. He said, ‘Raf, come with me, there’s nothing we can do down here, it’s futile to waste any more of our time in this manor.’ I asked the group about it, and they told me to just let him leave by himself if he wished to leave. I told him, ‘If you leave, you leave alone. I am not your prison guard. Go quickly, so that I can bar the door.’Nearly an eternity passes, with no more movement from above or below. My muscles start to feel alive, with memories of the exertions of battles not-long past. And then the door was forced from the outside. I held my ground, and I heard Alric from the outside say ‘RAF! It’s me!’ I open the door a sliver, so as to not to let the trapped gnome escape. I saw the fair skin of the crazy elf with her hand on the door, so exasperatedly I said to Alric, ‘Oh, so you’ve gone crazy too, then?’
To which Alric replied, ‘No, we’re going to Bizantium, one of those circles will take us!’
I let loose a sigh and say ‘Oh, sure. And the other ones are made of mead! I need to stay the door, as Tyvernos hasn’t passed yet, he’s still down here.’ Alric looked at me like I was completely and hopelessly slow. ‘He can walk through walls. He is already gone. Please, let’s go.’
‘That would have been good for me to know! Why have I barring this stupid door all night? I’ll follow you while you play with the circles and have your group delusions.’ And with that we marched gallantly down, back to the circle room. Through the conversation, Fala learned that the female elf we were fighting fled through a circle of teleportation to Bizantium. She told us that the evil elf is in fact a succubus! Emotional, she shoved her way past us and through the circle. To my amazement, she actually disappeared. Maybe there’s something to the claims of travel, I thought.
We decided that we needed divine intervention. We headed outside of the mansion, and lo and behold, the Ice Dragon shows up in the middle of Cava’s prayer. At this point I was almost sitting back like a spectator, watching events come to pass. The dragon decided to help us search for the gnome, as Alric told him that was where he would find the Blue Diamond, and for some reason we are led back IN to the mansion. Why?
We walked through the ramshackle building, and the dragon, when he got into the circle room pointed to one of them and said ‘Not that one, the large incomplete one, but THAT one. It’s a travel circle.’ Someone let slip that it led to Bizantium. We argued about what we should do, and the dragon said, ‘There is nothing here, you have tricked me. You shall be punished.’ Alric pushed him into the large, unfinished circle, or tried at least. The dragon growled, ‘That was foolish’
‘We were gonna die, anyway.’ Alric retorts, with a gleam of ‘Fight or Flight’ in his eyes.‘I was going let you go’ said the dragon, and Alric spat back, ‘We don’t trust you.’
‘That is wise,’ chortled the dragon. ‘I shall give you all one last chance. If we all part ways now, I shall not kill you.’ Alric let him pass, and he and Cava both went for trying to destroy the circles, so that the dragon couldn’t use them to ransack Byzantium, and so that more evil couldn’t be done with them; Cava had been wanting to destroy the manor since he laid eyes on the accursed place. The group decided to send a magic pigeon to Horoth Wavestrider in Byzantium, warning of the Dragon, Succubus, and Fala. They tried to get it there faster by throwing it into the circle, but when it was released, it opened its wings, and used the force to glide safely away from the circle and out the door.
They decided to not burn the manor down, but the ranger burned it down anyway. We left the manor, and ran into the dragon again, who demanded the Ribs of Osiris. He had found Tyvernos, who worked out a deal against us. Thoth arrived just in time, and the dragon turned tail and ran. The God took us to the city of Cassandra, bending the trees around us to make way; when we get to the city people looked at us with awe and worshiped as we passed, oddly similar scenes they were. We finally got to the temple steps, Karma and Overkill went to the sides of Thoth, and the rest of us spread out.
‘You, my son, and you, Ferra. Come before me.’ Thoth commands. His tender voice booms over the crowd gathered on the steps, quieting the worshipers
‘Yes, your godliness!’ I stuttered as I knelt before him, and set the Pike on the ground.
‘Citizens of Lemaria! This man who kneels be for you is now your king! And from now on, men and women are equals, no longer will there be difference between one and another over gender.’ Whispers break out among the crowd. Thoth then asked crisis whether or not Ferra should die for her trespasses. Karma said she should be allowed to live. Overkill deferred to Cava. Cava paused, then said, ‘My lord, I can not fault her for what she has done. She may remain.’ Alric deferred, as he had never had interaction with her. Gavin said, in normal Gavin fashion, ‘She should die for her crimes.’ She stayed as High Priestess, but no longer ruler.
My whole universe has changed. Not one month ago, I was a loyal, fierce soldier, fighting to protect the ways I was raised in. I was captain of the guard, not aspiring to anything more. My friends and family were mere citizens, friends of a citizen. Of course, I don’t feel deserving of anything more. I am still a citizen, still a servant. There is nothing that I receive that I shouldn’t work tirelessly to give to each and every one of… my… citizens. A new day has dawned on Lemaria, and Cassandra will become a new beacon of hope shining forth to all who worship the Light.
Out of my ponderings, Thoth asked me to offer sailors to stand in as Matilda’s crew. I looked around the crowd, and saw Captain Fjordrig and his crew, who had recently lost their ship to the Sea. They are a lot more agreeable than they look, and more honorable. They would do quite nicely. Matilda will be sailed to Sinza and will be waiting for CrIsis when they return on the morning of Algor 1.
Written early on the 13th of Thoth by the servant of Isis, Raf Innisfahl.
Picture courtesy of layoutsparks.com