The group stepped through the portal into a well furnished chamber. A small fire crackled in hearth, fine chairs sat around the room, and a table with food sat near the door.
“I’ll be back, don’t leave this room.” With that, Rith left the room. Marcus began boiling water over the fire crackling in the hearth as Malva and Cyrek made their way away from the group to brood. Drakon began pacing around the room, agitation plain on his face, even as Persephone began looking at the walls with a quizzical and slightly confused look on her face. Saca and Ryo sat in relative silence, and time passed for a bit. When the water came to a boil, Marcus removed it to make three cups of tea. He took one cup to Cyrek and set it beside him. He removed Lord Hector’s sword from the bag of holding and placed it against the arm of the chair, then walked away and sat next to Malva as she began playing her Lute.
After two hours had passed, Persephone, who had spent the whole time looking around the room attempting to figure out where the group was, decided she could wait no longer not knowing where she had ended up. She made her way to the door and, with incredible efficiency, unlocked the door. She opened it and began to make her way down the hall. Seeing her go, Drakon followed her, and Malva and Marcus watched from the door as they made their way to the window at the end of the hall. Persephone came to the edge of the window, and looked out upon the training ground of The Monastery.
“We’re safe.” She said to Drakon. “We don’t have to worry.” She turned to make her way back to the room just as Marcus disappeared and made his way out to the window to see what had been discovered. Percy looked back out the door and called to Marcus, assuring him that they didn’t need to worry. He made his way back into the room.
After they had reconvened in the room, discussion cropped up about The Monastery, and Marcus asked why she had not decided it was important to tell the group that the symbol of the Immortal Helix was the same as the monastery. Persephone nonchalantly brushed aside the question saying it had not crossed her mind, but even as she said it, Ryo’s head snapped up and he glared at Marcus.
“So the one who changes his voice constantly is questioning other members of the group?” He asked with heat in his voice.
“And you believe yourself worthy of questioning others Elred?” Marcus spat at him.
At these words, Percy sprang to her feet and slammed her cup to the table.
“I am not questioning. I am charging. If you don’t trust this group, then get the hell out.”
“You speak of trust when you refuse to tell me what happened to Herric, and the rest of the group that you are actually Elred, yet you still think you’re justified in standing there telling me I am the one that does not trust. And as we have seen Persephone has not been forthcoming in sharing information.” Marcus said, pointing at both of them in turn.
“I decided that it would be best to leave the nature of my identity to the discretion of Persephone.” Ryo countered.
“So you were hiding behind the daughter of the man you murdered?” Marcus retorted. At that, Persephone glared at him.
“I wouldn’t expect you to understand this. Maybe in a few years you will understand something about honor!” Ryo said with a condescending smirk.
Rage burned behind Marcus’s eyes, and he stood staring at Ryo, his hand drifting slowly to his sword. “You speak of honor, but your actions tore apart two kingdoms.”
“You have no idea what happened.” Ryo said coldly.
“You’re right, I assume you didn’t actually kill anyone, but took the fall because your queen Selene told you to.” Marcus said with just as much ice in his voice.
“Well if you want to keep assuming things, Marcus, then you will continue to bring distrust to this entire group.” Ryo said, condescension once again playing at the edges of his voice.
“No, what brings distrust to this entire group is when you are directly asked for answers, and you tell me that I can’t have them.” Marcus said, no amount of ice having left his voice.
“I believe I told you to take your questions to Percy, but you had apparently already talked to her.” Ryo responded.
“I asked you directly about what happened before your interaction with young Persephone. About what happened in Castion, not Eastaria. Don’t convolute the issue!” Marcus spat again.
“Guys.” This time it was Drakon who spoke. The three who were arguing turned to the door as Rith and a heavily tattooed elf walked through the door.
“Enough.” the elf’s voice cut through the room like a scythe, bringing all chatter to an immediate end. He looked around at the people in the room. “Do I need to walk away and let you argue, or can we take a break now?”
“We can take a break.” Malva quickly interjected, relieved that she didn’t have to listen to the bickering any longer.
Grandmaster Ky introduced himself and apologized for the wait, explaining that there were guests he could not get rid of politely. He turned to Cyrek and gave him his condolences for the loss of his father. He then turned to the rest of the group as he informed them that their presence in the monastery was to be of highest secrecy. “Thank you for bringing us this far. History is about to change and you are all in the middle. We have been waiting for you for a long time.” He then asked for the boxes and Rith pulled out the five boxes that had been collected. Grandmaster Ky again looked at the group and his voice grew even more serious. “What you are about to see is one Ultana’s most closely guarded secrets. I am only going to tell you this once. If any of you breath a word of what you are about to see to the Aegians, I will kill you without hesitation. Do I make myself clear? If you do not wish to be a part of this, there is the door.” As no one stirred, Grandmaster Ky proceeded. He waved his hand over them, and the boxes opened. The pieces rose into the air and snapped together, forming a foot long cylinder that gave off a faint purple glow.
“This is a cypher. Almost all of these have fallen into the hands of the Aegians. This cypher alone remains outside of their control. Each cypher is attuned between two obelisks. Dimensional travel into the area surrounding these obelisks is impossible without the use of the appropriate cypher, and that cypher will only take its user directly between the two obelisks. Follow me.”
Ky led the group through back passages and service corridors until they came to an abandoned building that appeared to be an old dorm building. Rith and Ky reached behind the edges of a fireplace along the wall, and a mechanical click sounded out from the wall. The fireplace ground and slid to the side. The group descended a staircase to a small obelisk. The group gathered around the pillar, and as Ky reached to slide the cypher into place, Rith spoke under his breath.
“I have waited a long time for this.” Other than Ky, only Ryo heard him say it as the group felt a strange pressure begin to push in on them. POP! And they found themselves in darkness. Marcus looked around the room. He could see the others, but the group was now surrounded by some sort of walls. He knew they were in darkness, magical darkness. He knew what that looked like. A great hissing voice boomed out in the heads of the party members demanding who dared enter the Archive. Ky called out, announcing that Sadorith and Kyloth had finally returned.
The darkness was quickly displaced by light and they looked around to see they were surrounded by a large cobra. The cobra’s upper body rose in the air as he bowed in respect to Grandmaster Ky who then introduced him as Zarinnas. The hissing voice resumed, “It is good to see you master. Follow me.” The cobra slithered out of the room and the group followed as they walked through a corridor that is lit by magical torches floating above them. They passed windows and recognized the Watchmen Mountains in the distance. They all realized that they were the farthest north than anyone had ever gone before. Zarinnas soon lead them into a large room that was lined from floor to ceiling with bookshelves each containing thousands of books. Zarinnas coiled his long body into the center of the room and hissed “Welcome to the Archiveeeee. You are first to enter in two thhhhousand yearssss.”
The group all looked around the room in amazement till Grandmaster Ky again spoke and drew their attention back to him. “Friends you have all been told stories about the past, but nothing has been further from the truth. We are the leaders of the Immortal Helix, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the truth. And the truth begins and ends with all of you. You were taught that dragons were the cause of the Kraytian Empire’s fall, but that was a lie. Dragons helped and founded the empire. And we are the last of their kind.”
Suddenly, the grounds started to rumble as before them Grandmaster Ky and Rith’s bodies began morph before them and grow in size. The group frantically stepped backwards as the two men transformed into dragons. Before them now stood a black dragon and a white dragon, thoroughly enjoying their return to their natural form.
Seeing their terrified faces, the dragon who had previously appeared as Grandmaster Ky spoke. “We mean you no harm. We are your friends. Here is what actually happened. Countless years ago, Ultana was created by forgotten gods, but left in the care of two immortal beings, Kryos and Ratagos, brothers bound to the balance of Ultana; Kyros being a good being and Ratagos being twisted. Even though they are opposite as light from darkness, they understand that each are essential to the well being of the world in their charge. However, that did not stop them from being incredibly competitive with each other. At various points throughout history, they would create a new race of beings allied to one Brother or the other. Eventually there were 7 intelligent races all at war with one another. The Brothers never intended so much war but that was the culmination of their competition. So they created Dragons to serve the Brothers to keep the races from killing each other off.
Soon the races understood that they had free will and broke alliances with the Brothers and instead went to them and asked them to help them live in harmony under one banner. So, 10,000 years ago, Kyros and Ratagos created the last race: the Kraytians. They were the best of the races ever to walk Ultana.
The Kraytians formed an empire that united all of the 8 races together and the Dragons partnered with them to guide them. The Dragons had freedom as a race of their own in the Empire but were still directly tied to the Brothers. Two Dragon Lords oversaw their race; Kyloth served Kryos and Sadorith served Ratagos. I am that same Kyloth, and Rith is Sadorith. We were a completion of the Brother’s will to see Ultana balanced. They had both won. For 8000 years the Kraytian Empire ruled with Peace and Power, but sadly, it would not last.”
Grandmaster Ky paused for a moment to make sure he still had the group’s attention. Noting that their eyes were still fixed on him, he continued. “ It was during the reign of the last Kraytian Emperor: Achlys Protex, the greatest Kraytian of them all. He was wise in that he understood that his empire was too large to be managed by just one person so he founded a secret order of knights, known as the Knights of the Eventide, to assist, but these people were warriors and did not have expertise in leading a kingdom. He then decided to bring in advisers from the other races to assist him. He held a contest to see who the most gifted mages were in the land. Sadly he did not see what the outcome would be.
8 wizards, all nobles from the Elves, Humans, and Dwarves rose through the contests and became Achlys’ advisors; Athana, Gaiana, Teumess, Kallia, Theron, Skotos, Niketas, and Roxana. They called themselves the Octoma.
For several years they served the empire wisely but sadly their status gave them an arrogance over the other people. They had beaten the other races in power… why should the Kraytians rule over them? Before Achlys’s reign, an unknown ancient being came back to Ultana. We still have no idea who it is or where it dwells, but it brought poison to the land. This evil being acquainted itself with the Octoma and it’s poisonous beliefs seeped into their lives. It taught them evil magic that would change the balance of Ultana. The Octoma referred to It as ‘The Deep Void.’
The Octoma lured some dragons to a secret meeting and they sprang a trap. They killed the dragons and using their hearts, they preformed an ancient ritual that gave them immortality and power beyond anything they imagined. They used this power to cast an enchantment that would essentially lock the Brother’s influence out of Ultana. We were left on our own and defenseless. Then the 8 turned their actions against the Empire.
Sadorith and I immediately felt our connection to the Brothers vanish and knew something was wrong. We went to the Emperor and learned of the Octoma’s betrayal. Sadly we could not stop the events that were in motion. The Octoma had power that could not be stopped by anything of their day.
We scrambled for a solution and used the last of our magic from the Brother’s to look ahead to the future where we saw a remnant of people who still knew the truth and sought the downfall of the Octoma: The Immortal Helix. We also saw a solution to the problem: A weapon that could kill the Octoma, wielded by a re-founded Knights of the Eventide.
Desperate, we put everything we learned into a plan that would be a great gamble. We locked all the knowledge of the weapon in a special vault in this Archive, a hidden library of knowledge known only to the Emperor and Sadorith and I. This vault would only be able to be opened by us, a Kraytian and the refounded Knights of the Eventide when they found the key that we hid. It was you we saw taking down the Octoma. We have been waiting two thousand years for you.
When we started this plan, the Knights of the Eventide would go their separate ways, passing along their signet rings to their apprentices. The Kings Crown was to be hidden away, Sadorith and I went into hiding to wait for the opportune time. And lastly, the most desperate part of our plan: a time jump.
What the Octoma did not know was the Achlys’ wife was due to give birth any day. Sadorith and I knew of a spell that would be able to send one person forward in time and we all decided we would send the Queen while she was still pregnant. However, fate was not on our side for she went into labor that very day, giving birth to a son, who they named Drakon Protex.”
Everyone’s eyes in the group expanded as their heads whipped around to look at Drakon. Drakon himself could not hide the shock in face. Grandmaster Ky quickly continued before they interrupted him with any questions.
“This complicated things because the spell would only send one person. We had to make a difficult choice and sent Drakon two thousand years forward into a remote area in the Great Northern Forest, where a small gathering of people, who were still loyal to the House of Protex, lived. He was to be raised by a Dragonborn named, Kyrex, a descendant of one of the Knights of Eventide, and taught in the old ways.
That left Sadorith and I. We knew we would be immune to time, but we also knew that the Octoma would hunt us down. Two members of the Knights volunteered themselves to take our place. As you have witnessed, we are shape shifters. Sadorith took human form and I elven, and we transformed the two Knight into Dragons that resembled our original form.
The Octoma discovered the “Dragon Lords” and killed them, thus ending the line of dragons… or so they thought.
Sadorith and I separated. I founded the Monastary and for centuries have secretly taught the old ways. Sadorith spent his time creating a mass fortune that he has used against the Octoma. He also founded the Silken Underground, a massive criminal underground that dealt in magical items.
Even though we took two different roads, our goal was the same: Wait until Drakon Protex was of age to take up his father’s throne and find the people we foresaw as the new Knights of the Eventide. We have waited two thousand years for this moment. Many people have given their life for this secret. We know you are probably in shock, so we will give you some time process.”
The group was silent except for Drakon who could no longer hide his astonishment at discovering he was the son of a king and had traveled from 2,000 years before. Not quite sure what to say, his response was mostly noises and several wild gesticulations. Persephone was first to ask a question. “What do you mean you saw us coming 2,000 years ago?” “We looked forward into the future and saw seven people taking down the Octoma with Drakon leading. Everything is not set in stone as we did not see everything and some things have been different but we knew of your coming and we’ve been looking for you ever since. You have all shown up in our path seemingly random ways,” replied Kyloth.
Ryo asked what their connection to Lord Hector was, to which Kyloth explained that the Peariner line was one of the original Knights of the Eventide and subsequently one of the oldest lineages of Ultana. “Because we’ve had to keep our identity a secret, a Peariner has been the face and the center of the Immortal Helix,” explained Kyloth.“There are people who can hear your masters?” asked Marcus. Kyloth responded, “We have not been able to trace down a bloodline, but we knew that there is one that has a connection to the brothers and have been able to hear their voices.” “Voices, huh,” said Persephone, looking at Marcus.
“What is this weapon you speak of?” inquired Cyrek. Kyloth explained, “The weapon was made of the same metal we used to get here. We thought we mined it all, but what most people don’t know that in the north near the mountains is a mine that we used to create the teleportation devices and apparently there is still some of this metal there. We just documented the vision, but we don’t actually know how to create the weapon.” Cyrek asked, seeking clarification, “So you know there’s more of this metal, but you don’t yet have the means to make the weapon?” Kyloth replied that that was accurate. “If we were to retrieve this metal,” continued Cyrek, “would you have the means to make the weapon?” Kyloth motioned to the room around them. “The library exists to help us find that answer. It has everything that the Kraytians ever did as we weren’t involved with everything. We mainly helped the Kraytians with management, so there is a lot that we don’t know about. We do know there are answers here. But Cyrek, your question about forging a weapon, that only gets you a weapon. You will need to amass an army. As you are all aware, the entire population assumes the Octoma to be their gods. If you try to take them on, you will be fighting against an entire nation. Not only do you need to raise an army, you have to actually start a rebellion.”
Marcus then asked, “Where are the Octoma?” “ The Octoma,” Kyloth shared, “as far as we know, are very well hidden. We assume that they are either in the city of Kraytian or in the mountains.” “Who is Arris?” followed Marcus with a second question. Kyloth responded without missing a beat; their numerous questions did not rattle him. He knew it was really only the beginning of their inquiries as they processed what he had shared with them. “Arris is the leader of the Aegians. There are always 8 of them and the title gets handed down to their successor. Arris is the oldest of the Aegians. We don’t know how old he is because he is human, but he has been around longer than all the others.” “And all of your brothers were slain?” Marcus continued to inquire, with a slight note of sympathy in his tone.“ “Yes,” replied Kyloth. “The Octoma have a power that can locate dragon form and kill them. That’s why we had to change our form for the last 2,000 years. We are only in our dragon form here because we are outside Ultana.” “And where is the crown?” asked Marcus. “ “The crown is part of a set that the King would wear. We know that the Knights of the Eventide hid it, but they did that after we’d already gone into hiding. We believe it was sent to Rama, one of the Knights who had a keep near Avalar called Myst Knight Keep. We believe that is the best place to begin looking.”
“Do you have a plan?” Ryo asked. Kyloth paused for a moment and then looked at each of them. “This was our plan,” he stated. Malva grew unsettled and could no longer hide her agitation. Spotting the confusion on her face, Sadorith called her out and asked what was wrong. Malva hesitated for a moment, shuffled her feet and then finally replied. “I don’t’ think I belong here! I don’t understand why I’m here. I am nothing and a nobody and I don’t understand what the point is to my being here. I can’t possible see how I would fit into such a plan with these people. “ Sadorith appeared pleased with her comments, as smug a look as a dragon is capable of appeared on his face. “You’re here because I wanted someone on the team who was more in it for themselves, I wanted a wild card, I wanted someone who wasn’t afraid to get their hands dirty. I wanted a thief.”
The room grew silent as they mulled over Sadorith’s comment. Ryo coughed, breaking the silence. “It seems to me,” he shared, “that we all need some clarification on our history and try to work out some things amongst ourselves so we are better able to work together.” “There’s too many secrets,” mumbled Malva. Ryo nodded, agreeing with her. “So perhaps you could shed some light on some things we that ourselves don’t understand.” Without any hesitation, Kyloth responded, “As far as we’re concerned, your histories are your own issues to work out.” “I beg to differ,” Drakon blurted out. “Mine jumped forward 2,000 years and I didn’t receive much clarification from my Master before he was killed by Malegore. So, some clarification on my role and history would be appreciated.” Kyloth nodded in understanding. “Well,” he responded, “there are things in this archive that can only be accessed by Kraytians. Perhaps that will help you.” Drakon sniffed, appearing unimpressed by Kyloth’s response. “Where do I start?” he asked, looking around the room. “That is up to you,” Kyloth said. He looked at each of them again, making sure they were paying attention. “You can choose to ignore all of this, but I will tell you right now that if you decide to walk away, we will kill you right here. No one can know this secret.”
Though he should have been intimidated by Kyloth’s threat, Drakon only became frustrated. “So you’re telling me,” he bellowed,” that I’m the emperor of Ultana but you can’t actually give me anything to help understand what this all means?” Kyloth remained unruffled. Sadorith on the other hand stood back on his hind legs, a low growl escaping his throat. “Boy…you might be the last of a bloodline but you have big shoes to fill.” “I realize that,” Drakon yelled back. “I am not saying this arrogantly, I am saying I have no where else to go, but you are giving me nothing.” “Yeah, you don’t sound arrogant at all,” Marcus muttered. “Seek the crown,” Kyloth repeated. “If you want a starting point, start there.”
“I have a few questions,” said Cyrek, extinguishing some of the tension in the room. “One night we captured a prisoner and a man dressed all in black suddenly appeared and killed him. His body decomposed in front of us. What can you tell us of that?” “Those are the Reapers,” explained Kyloth. “There have been very few sightings of them, but there have been bodies discovered in their wake. We assume they are a sect of the Aegians. We know that Theron represents hunting and we think they are loyal to him.”
“And the orcs are simply one of the races that rose against the races and are now aligning with the Aegians?” asked Marcus. “The orcs are different,” said Kyloth. “The orcs are interesting to us because they seemed to have just appeared. They always existed in Ultana, even before the brothers and they’ve always been mindless until Nine-Heads organized them.” “Until the Aegians?” asked Marcus, seeking clarification. “Oh no,” laughed Kyloth. “Nine-Heads united the orcs, the Aegians learned to control Nine-Heads. The Aegians have kept Nine-Heads quite secret, but we know is that he has been around for at least 1500 years and that we can’t kill him.” “Like, he’s immortal or you just can’t find a way to kill him,” asked a puzzled Drakon. “Well, he’s still alive and he’s older than the elves, but the Aegians have a way to control him. So we assume that if he has some kind of weakness, the Aegians know it,” explained Kyloth.
Though the information shared had been interesting, Ryo returned to the question he had previously asked, slightly annoyed. “So you’re telling me,” he said, “that you guys have been waiting around for 2,000 years and you don’t have a plan for us? Sadorith sniffed, “How shall we say this,” he said. “If we appear in Ultana we die.” Marcus couldn’t hide a slight snear in his voice as he mumbled, “Now who’s the young one with no honor?” Ryo ignored Marcus’s comment. “All I see around me is a ragtag group of people with no one around to bring them together and if you’re not that person, who is?” he asked, not masking his frustration. “He died a couple of hours ago,” Kyloth replied. “So what now?” asked Ryo. The group again grew somber.
“I came here because my master was killed by Nine-Heads and I had a conversation with Hector and he told me my role in this was to keep you all together.” Drakon shared. “ I don’t know how to do that because I know that we have all been through a lot and there is a good amount of distrust, and I’m the youngest. I just learned I’m the son of the former Kraytian Emperor and I don’t know what to do with that. But I’d really prefer that we didn’t fall apart right now because, for the most part, we are all we have left right now. Whether we feel we’re alone or together, we’re all we have. I don’t have anyone else in the world. I know Cyrek has just lost everything, and Malva just lost everything and the rest of us come from pretty lonely backgrounds. I don’t have a plan because I don’t know what to do with the information we just heard and the fact that we just had all of our history rewritten. But I don’t want us to fall apart. They saw something when they looked into the future and Hector brought us together because he saw something in us, he saw some kind of potential. And there’s probably going to be some arguing and fighting to get us to that point, but I think we have the potential to do what they are proposing. I think we have what it takes to fulfill this vision that they had and to take down the Octoma.”
Moved by Drakon’s speech, Ryo agreed. “I too believe that we are bound together for whatever the future holds, so I shall share my past with you in hopes to shed some light on some things that have been confusing till now. I grew up in the Elven kingdom of Castion and was part of the Queen’s royal guard. I was close to Persephone’s mother, a kind of uncle to her.” Turning to Persephone, he said, “Persephone, your mother was the daughter of the Queen and she fell in love with a human and the Queen of course did not approve. She did not know that her daughter was pregnant when she asked me to kill him and take the punishment for it. I struggled between my love for Ashryn and my fealty to my Queen. I felt I had no choice as duty won out, so I to carried through on Raelyn’s decree but told your mother to flee. I then went into hiding for the next 20 years as my reputation was ruined and my name was tarnished. I’ve been in Avalar ever since under a pseudonym. King Hector knew of it, though I didn’t know how much he actually knew but now I assume he knew the whole story. But he called me in and offered me this job.”
“Thank you for sharing, Ryo,” said Drakon. “The part of my story that you did not hear tonight was that I was raised by Kryex, a dragon born, who did not tell me anything of my history. He said he was going to tell me one night, but that was when Nine-Heads showed up. Kryex gave me a box and told me to hide otherwise Nine-Heads would have killed me as well. And that brings me to now. I was raised to fight and was raised a warrior but not raised to lead an army or kingdom that apparently my lineage was responsible for. “ Drakon paused, waiting for someone else to share. As he was met by silence, he asked, “I understand we are all still in shock, but is there anyone else who wants to share? Marcus?” Marcus looked down at the ground, “I have nothing to say,” he stated. “Percy?” asked Drakon. Persephone remained silent. Drakon looked around at each person, but everyone remained silent.
Drakon looked back at Sadorith and Kyloth. “We need to make plans to move forward, but we are short on funds. Do you have any treasury to fund this mission?” Sadorith snickered, “ I started the underground for this reason.” He noticeably winked at Marcus. “I don’t know what that means,” said Drakon, confused. “Marcus can tell you,” said Sadorith, again chuckling in Sadorith. Marcus did not find the moment as comical. Drawing his sword from its sheath he glared at Sadorith and Ryo as he said, “The reason I endeavored on this mission and the only reason I ended up in Avalar is because people I loved were killed by the hands of those given orders by people with power because they knew too much or had done something they didn’t like. You are the man, the very kind of man that destroyed my home, destroyed the lives of the people I love and you look at me and say you are a man of honor because you kill with out question and throw your life away and the life of others. And you, dragon,” Marcus’s speech was interrupted by Sadorith’s chuckling. Marcus slammed his sword back in it’s sheath, “I will follow and I will do what needs to be done, “ he said, “because I have no where else to go. I am marked by the magic and voice of your creators, but know this Elf,” Marcus turned his glare from Sadorith to look at Ryo. “We will never be friends, allies but never friends” His speech completed, Marcus walked away from the circled group to lean against one of the many bookshelves. Sadorith started waving his wing in an attempt at clapping, highly amused by Marcus’s speech.
Annoyed, Drakon turned to Kyloth. “I’m not going to get any information from him. Can you tell me anything about this Silken Underground?” “It’s a network of criminals that deal in magical weapons. It pays very well,” said Kyloth. “How can we connect with some of these people and their weapons and perhaps some of their money?” asked Drakon. “Because I assume to finance a rebellion, you actually need finances.” Sadorith chimed in with a chuckle and replied, “Oh, I’m not giving you my treasury. You will have to work for me, to get me more money and I will share with you.” Drakon sneered, “But I don’t like you” he bluntly said to Sadorith. From the background Marcus was heard mumbling, “Oh, and you’re such a peach, Drakon.”
Sadorith was unruffled by Drakon’s declaration. “ That’s fair,” he said. “Just remember that your kind killed all of my kind, so lets talk about who doesn’t like who. I’m in this out of loyalty to your father. You have to earn whether or not I’m actually going to help you. Or you might turn on us, what’s to stop you from killing us, the last two dragons? Your kind did the same thing, so why should I trust you?” Drakon, noticeably agitated by Sadorith’s response shouted out, “ I’m here because of you getting me here so we could help kill the very people who killed your beings, so don’t put what everyone else has done on me.” Drakon sighed, “Kyloth, you seem more reasonable. Can you reason with me here, where do we begin because Sadorith seems to think we’re his pets and have to earn our keep. Is that really what you saw when you looked ahead?”
Kyloth calmly replied to Drakon. “Let me give you a piece of advice about dragons. We like our treasure. I gave mine up so I could found a monastery.” Drakon interrupted Kyloth. “But if you’re telling us that we’re supposed to raise an army, I would appreciate not being told by your brother that we have to turn into a band of his little smugglers to earn him money. Especially if it’s to finance something that ultimately is the whole reason we’re even here and that was not for our choosing.” Sadorith’s voice turned more serious. “Earn my trust,” he said. “At what point have you earned ours?” asked Drakon. Again, Marcus voiced his opinion from his place of seclusion. “Well, he hid us behind a wall, teleported us out of Avalar that was crawling with orcs, and brought us here to Kyloth.” Drakon turned to look at Marcus. “For us or for him, though?” Annoyed, Marcus mumbled, “you’re right, he should have left you to fight the orcs, you would have done just fine.” Drakon took a step towards Marcus. “Are you on his side now? Because I think you’re still brooding over your argument with Ryo, and if you’re going to have an issue you can walk away, because this right now is about our future, not our past. So I’m talking with the dragon about how we’re going to take down the Octoma. You still seem to be pretty upset about something Ryo did.” Marcus rolled his eyes and crossed his arms. “Really? Because this conversation seems to be more about your pride and how you don’t want to be the servant of a dragon.” “Because we’re not here to serve,” shouted Drakon. “We were told we were brought here to help take down the Octoma. And that doesn’t start by becoming his smuggler.” “It did for me,” retorted Marcus. Drakon shrugged. “That was your thing, but that doesn’t mean that’s where it begins for us. I need to hear more reason for why we are doing what we are doing.” Drakon looked at Marcus, expecting another smart response, but Marcus remained silent and stepped back to lean against the bookshelf behind him.
Cyrek spoke up, before any further arguments could begin. “We need to start thinking about a concrete plan and this bickering is not going to win them over,” he said to the group. Drakon looked at Cyrek and agreed, but reiterated some of his previous argument. Looking between Cyrek and the dragons he replied, “But are we on our own, or are you going to help us take down the Octoma? Because it sounds like you’re in it for your self and if that’s the case I want to know I don’t have two dragons on my side and these six people are all I have left in this world.” Sadorith responded with a smug tone. “You have one dragon on your side,” he said. “And Pepperpot has two,” Marcus muttered from the corner.
“How do we know for sure that what you’re telling us the truth,” asked Malva. “All that we knew about the world has now been turned upside down. What reassurance can you give us that it is actually the truth. I’m not asking to be disrespectful, but I think it’s a lot that you’re asking that we just take your word for it.” As Malva vulnerably asked her question, two voices suddenly spoke to Marcus’s mind. “Tell Malva that they speak the truth,” they instructed. Marcus started laughing in the corner, causing them to all to turn and look at him. “All I know is that I will stand with them because they speak the truth,” he shared. “How do you know they speak the truth, Marcus,” asked Malva. Sadorith looked at his chosen one, “the one who has some serious trust issues trusts us, what other proof do you want?” Malva remained quiet. “And we haven’t eaten you yet, so there’s that,” chuckled Kyloth.
Kyloth’s attempt at humor dispelled some of the tension in the room. Marcus still had some questions to ask. Taking out a few rings from his pocket, he asked Kyloth, “These rings, this one came to me from the hand of a Tiefling named Demra. Why would someone want to find it and take it?” “Why would someone want to find that ring,” asked Kyloth, making sure he understood the question. Marcus nodded. “Well if the Knights did their job, they instructed no one to ever tell the purpose of their rings. Are you sure it was someone looking for the ring or looking for the person?” asked Kyloth. “I’m not really sure,” said Marcus. “I was just wondering because of the importance of this crest to your cause. I assumed they might be related.” Kyloth shrugged. “I assume she was probably an ancestor of one of the Knights.” “And would she willingly give this ring up?” asked Marcus. “I don’t know,” said Kyloth. “I don’t know who this person is.” Marcus face fell, sadness evident for a moment before he controlled his emotions and exchanged his sad look with a blank stare.
He again spoke up with a question, this time to Sadorith. “So Sadorith,” Marucs said, “what can you tell me about Cazimir Drandas?” Sadorith and Kyloth look at each other. “Cazimir Drandas is another one of those ancient beings in Ultana. We discovered through our network that he is a vampire and runs a slavery ring that has existed for many years. We know that he existed about the same time as Malegore Nine-Heads came into existence. He’s been building his empire for about 1800 years. He runs Drandas Slavers. Why do you ask?” “And Hakson?” Marcus asked, ignoring their question for a moment, “His right hand man, what do you know of him?” “I just know Cazimir always has someone working for him, but I don’t know anything about Hakson,” said Sadorith. “I have a personal debt to pay to Cazimir Drandas,” Marcus announced. Kyloth recommended that Marcus focus on the current situation. “If you take him on,” he said, “you will also be taking on the entire Aegian order. We don’t believe that Cazimir is one of the 8, but they have a close relationship.” Marcus nodded, accepting his recommendation.
“I think that we need to seek the crown then, since that is what we know to go after,” Marcus said. Cryek agreed. “Do we stand in agreement on the issue?” Marcus asked. “The way the Knights and Achyls worked, there will likely be more information to discover when you find the crown. So, find the crown and then come back to the monastery,” Kyloth said. As everyone else continued to still be processing, Marcus pulled out a scroll that appeared blank to all but Malva. Marcus asked Kyloth if he could see anything on it. Kyloth read the scroll out loud. “If you are reading this, we hope you are part of the Resistance. This is final piece of the archive cypher. If you are not who we hope you are, than all is lost. Long live House Protex.”
“How will we return here?” asked Drakon. “I will have the cypher at the monastery,” replied Kyloth. “And how will we make passage in and out of the monastery without being seen?” Drakon responded. “Persephone can help you,” Kyloth said looking at Persephone with a glint in his eye. “She knows many secret ways in and out of the monastery.” Persephone chuckled. “And once we get back to the monastery, I can teleport you back to Avalar.” Persephone appeared concerned. “Grandmaster Ky,” she she said, “if all of this has already happened, everything we’ve already gone through, how can you be sure that the monastery will stay safe? Things are happening around us and people are rallying and we already know there are people who disagree with the monastery and what it stands for, so how can you be sure it will stay safe?” Sadorith’s replied with a cunning tone. “The Aegians are very greedy.” “You pay them to turn a blind eye?” asked Marcus. “Let’s just say, if they take down the monastery, they lose a significant portion of their income,” Sadorith cryptically explained.
Persephone once again spoke up, the concern on her face still evident. “So, others shared their history, but mine was shared for me,” she said with a note of sarcasm evident in her voice. “Ryo asked me this question a little while ago and I had no answer for him. You’ve never told me the truth, Grandmaster Ky, about my parents, I found it out from other places, you kept it from me my entire life. But maybe you can tell me now, is my mother still alive?” Her eyes showed a sign of hope and Ryo too looked intently at Kyloth. Grandmaster Ky looked down and sighed. “I honestly don’t know,” he said, with compassion in his voice. “All she told me the night she left was that she had to do something to secure your birthright. She never returned.” Persephone was silent for a moment and then asked another question. “Do you know if Raelyn Selene is sympathetic to the cause of the Aegians? Does she align with them?” Kyloth intimated a shrug. “She is not part of the Immortal Helix but we also don’t know if she is incredibly religious or not.” Cyrek turned to Ryo and asked him if he knew. Ryo informed them that though Raelyn Selene was by no means a fanatic, she had shown a value for the traditions of the Aegians.
Marcus stepped away from the bookshelf and made his way back to the group. “So now we must turn an entire nation against their gods, we must forge a weapon out of a material that does not exist as far as we know, it is somewhere in a mine, find a crown in a area that is crawling with orcs who will try to kill us, and we have to do all of this because of a prophecy from two dragons who happened to survive when everyone thought they had died.” He paused. “My life became much more interesting then it was before.” Drakon looked around the circle, “Can we do this?” he asked. “We’ve had our issues, but can we move forward?” “I can do whatever needs to be done,” replied Marcus. “Marcus,” said Persephone, “Will that brogue ever come back?” Marcus just smiled in response.
Returning to his question, Drakon again tried to get everyone’s attention. “So do we all understand that this is the path set before us and we walk it till it ends, or die trying? Because if not, Kyloth has already volunteered to eat people.” “I don’t have a problem with the path,” Malva shared. “But my question is can we entrust the leadership of this group to Drakon. Are we all ok with that?” “I didn’t say I’m the leader, but no one else has asked to be,” shot out Drakon defensively. “Entrusting the leadership to the youngest may seem foolish,” Marcus slowly replied. “Are we going to entrust the leadership to a dwarf when she see’s an orc?” shot back Drakon. “I don’t want to be the leader,” growled Sacagawea.” “Or are we-“ Drakon’s next sentence was cut off by Persephone. “Do you really want to go down this path, Drakon?” “Do you want me to?” he asked. Unanimously they all responded “No.” “Do you think it’s wise to point out everyone’s faults right now?” Persephone again asked Drakon. “You have decided to point out mine, and what I’m asking is are we going in the direction? I didn’t say I’m the emperor or the king, or your leader but we all seem to be standing around a circle and arguing in front of two dragons who aren’t super helpful and it seems like we all want to go in one direction, but not everyone is saying anything,” replied Drakon, his frustration evident.
Malva spoke up again. “All I’m asking,” she said, “is are we all on the same page? I’m not challenging anyone’s authority or pointing out any flaws.” “And I was asking the same thing. You brought my leadership into this,” shout out Drakon. “I brought our agreeing to your leadership into this. None of us have actually acknowledged, including yourself, who is going to lead this group, so I am proposing that right now,” Malva responded, remaining calm.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that we have to work together here and there will not be one person in charge, but we have to agree that we will do what is best for the party and not just for ourselves,” Ryo shared. “Well we have the daughter of royalty, a son of a noble, a high ranking official in the elven court, and the son of an emperor, but we’re not sure who’s going to lead us. I think that the best thing to do is to follow the dragons until we have our feet under us. I will put forth for the final time that I believe we should go after the crown because it is the only thing we know to go after. While doing such we can develop a plan and figure out where we stand, find people to turn against the Octoma and find out where we will not be able to do that. All in all, I believe going after the crown will be our most logical next step,” Marcus said with resolve. “I can agree with that,” Malva replied. “Are we going to find the crown?” rallied Drakon. They all replied in assent. Again before them, Kyloth’s form changed as he returned to his elven body. They looked at Sadorith who sensed their question. He would stay awhile longer. He was not yet ready to return to the human form that had held him captive for so long.
The group started to walk out of the room, but Malva lingered behind and asked Sadorith, “Do you know why I can see the writing on the scroll?” “I have a wanted someone on this team that I knew I might be able to count on if I needed them. I gave you an ability called Dragon Touch that the Kraytians and I developed that would allow a writing to be visible to those who the dragons seemed worthy. I gave it to you,” he explained. Still confused, Malva turned and followed the group.
They returned to the cypher and once again were transported, only this time returning to the monastery.