The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 4: Trials of Light and Dark)

3 Realms 4-27

The Fortress Team followed Hanjar to the north and found the Fortress. Orbak sent Jeefef and Malnar to do some scouting alongside a male Gryphon. Hanjar sent his best scout with them, and they checked out the whole area, only darting in to get more details when it was determined to be safer. Malnar observed the symbol on the banners. It was similar to the Realmfleet Symbol, yet different. It was an equilateral triangle with a circle on each vertex and a circle in the center. Once they had scouted for long enough, they returned to the main team. “There are snipers at each tower along the wall, three in each,” reported Malnar.

“I found rather large Trolls in each of the four tower inside,” continued the Gryphon.

“And the symbol looked a lot like the Realmfleet one,” finished Jeefef.

“Not to me, it didn’t,” interjected Malnar. “Daddy, the triangle’s sides weren’t made of hands in a handshake, the vertices were all circles instead of one circle, one square, and one triangle, and there was a circle in the center.”

“…The One Ruling Three,” growled Orbak.


“So, the Overlord is flying the banner of Intrag, are they?!” Orbak then punched his fist. “Well, they’ll learn how big of a mistake THAT is!”

“A mistake?” asked Hanjar.

“By law, anyone foolish enough to fly that banner is spitting on the progress my family has made since those barbarous times!”

“And you view this as an affront to your person?”

“Oh, boy, do I!”

“…Then you should focus on the Overlord. We’ll hold everyone else off.”

“…I think I’ll take you up on that offer.”

“How should we do this, Daddy?” asked Malnar.

“I want all flight capable people to bombard the sniper towers. The four towers surrounding the central one house units called Defenders, working as the last line of defense for the Overlord, should the walls be breached. Fliers, keep the snipers busy so our strongest can breach the gates. Once we do, join everyone in keeping the Defenders busy. I’ll be going after the Overlord. Once the Overlord’s behind bars, the fortress is yours, Hanjar. You may pick whoever you wish to be Overlord.”

“…Agreed.” Hanjar then offered his front right foot. “…You DO shake hands to signify agreements, do you not?” Orbak then took Hanjar’s foot, and they shook.

Everyone gathered at the gate as the snipers aimed their weapons at the team. Orbak looked around, then called to the Overlord. “Let the Overlord come forth!” he demanded. “Let justice be done upon him!” They all waited for half a minute before the fort’s gate opened. An Elf man on horseback came out and made his way to Orbak. The horse was nose-to-nose with Orbak as the Elf dismounted. “…Nice horse,” muttered Orbak to the Elf. The horse snorted as the Elf approached the Under-king.

“I am the Overlord’s Emissary,” he introduced himself.

“Since when do Overlords have emissaries?” asked Orbak.

“Since the fort is going to be a new castle for a new country here,” answered the Emissary. He looked out at the team. “Is there none in this gang with the authority to treat with me? Not you, Orbak. It needs more to make a king than fancy trinkets or a rabble like yours. Any hick from the country can make such a group.” Hanjar gave the Emissary a Look. The Look was so intense that the Emissary stepped back as if a sword was being drawn at him. “I’m a herald and ambassador! You cannot harm me!”

“And we won’t until your errand is done,” assured Orbak. “Unless, of course, your Overlord sees sense.”

“It is YOU who fails to see sense! You and your fellows! Can you not see that fighting Oyed will only lead to our extinction?!”

“And treating with him won’t?”

“I see you refuse to understand. Very well, I will simply give my Overlord’s terms.”

“And they are?”

“The Gryphons must surrender these lands utterly. Any who do not leave must pay tribute to us in order to continue living here. This fortress will be rebuilt into a castle, and it is here the Overlord shall be King of these lands.”

“You demand too much!” snarled Orbak. “Tell the Overlord this; he and his forces are to abandon the fort and these lands, never to return! I will not have a symbol of oppression flown in any Realm!”

“Even one your family concocted?”

“ESPECIALLY one my family concocted!” He converted his scepter into sword mode, causing the horse to whinny and rear up in fright before abandoning the battlefield. The Emissary dashed back into the fort as the gates opened just enough for him. A door outside the Central Tower’s balcony opened and the Overlord stepped out. It looked like a two-headed Troll to everyone, but he was far enough that it was hard to make out any details.

“Moruk nak kanit!” roared the Troll’ left head. As it spoke, it felt like the words were slicing into everyone’s ears. “Kanuk lak eltak! Morkut rak gahatan!” Once everyone recovered, Hanjar turned to Orbak.

“What was that?!” he demanded.

“Ancient Black Tongue,” explained Orbak. “Only members of the Emboramii family know it. Either one of my family’s taught the Overlord, or he’s not really two-headed.”

“What did he say?”

“…I’m one of those Emboramii’s that don’t know it; the language’s a pain in the ass to learn.”

“I’m rusty at it,” muttered Malnar. “I’ve forgotten how the noun-declension and verb-forms work. I still know the basic vocabulary, so I could understand his barebones meaning. From what I could glean from the vocabulary, he said something along the lines of ‘You made a mistake coming here! We are stronger than you! You will die horribly!’ Gotta admit, he’s quite the wordsmith when it comes to Ancient Black Tongue.”

“Remember the plan, everyone,” Orbak called to the team. “I will handle the Overlord. You focus on the Defenders.”

“Define ‘Focus’,” snarked Hanjar. Orbak raised his blade to signal that he was going to give an order.

“CHARGE!” he shouted. The instant he did, a hidden Gryphon army flew out of the rocks and started bombarding the fortress.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 4: Trials of Light and Dark)

3 Realms 4-26

While Arsha planned out her teams in her ready room, she considered why she hadn’t heard anything about the Realm Trinity Empire’s movements. It worried her a bit. However, she had other matters to attend to. As she planned, she got a call. “Yes?” she asked.

“It’s Aldarval,” replied the caller.

“What can I do for you?” asked Arsha.

“Reb and Patrica have caught up to us,” explained Aldarval.

“They took their sweet time.”

“They had to pick someone up, someone from Dwalna City.”

“From Dwalna? Who?”

“Lady Empria Dewlna.” Arsha goggled.

“…As in…the greatest witch of the Over-realm?!”

“The same.”

“But…but why?!” Aldarval said nothing for a brief moment.

“She said that there was something she needed to pick up here and she believes it’s related to the invisible ship.”

“…A little too close to be a coincidence.”

“My thoughts exactly. She’s also requested that Twirja accompany her.”

“I’ll need to ask Twirja, but if he says yes, then I think I’ll have your team all set up.”

“Does that team include you?” Arsha paused.

“…I’ll need to swap someone out as I DID plan on joining the fort team. …I think Marshii can take my place. They might need a doctor.”

“Excellent. Go ask Twirja if he can join us. I’ll await your team decisions. Aldarval out.” The call ended and Arsha left her ready room. She then made her way to Denstra’s quarters.

“ABSOLUTELY NOT!” shouted Denstra.

“I asked Twirja, not you, Commander,” remarked Arsha as she met with Denstra and all her spouses.

“I’m siding with Denstra on this one!” called Jweltu. “He doesn’t have all his limbs, remember?!”

“Come on, that’s never stopped him before,” argued Jaltor.

“True,” agreed Twansa. “He IS capable.”

“Is anyone gonna let me get a word in edgewise?!” called Twirja. “You’re all acting like I’m not in the room!”

“Twirja, with what’s going on…!” protested Denstra.

“Denstra, dearest, my mind’s made up. The Crelima crashed here while I served on it, and we never found the wreck. If it IS the Crelima, this will give me the closure I need. Captain, I’m going with you.”

“Very well,” replied Arsha. “Report to the landing ramp bright and early at 5:25.”


“Captain!” snarled Denstra.

“You’re on his team, as am I,” assured Arsha.

“…Fine, I have no more arguments.” Denstra settled back down on the bed.

“With that in mind, I will see you all tomorrow.” Arsha then left the room. Denstra scowled at Twirja.

“You couldn’t say no, could you?!”

“In this matter, no, I couldn’t.” Denstra rolled her eyes as she and her spouses got ready for bed.

6:25 came the next day and the two teams approached the meeting place. Hanjar and Erudsa were there as well. “These are your teams?” asked Erudsa.

“They are,” answered Arsha. “The fortress team will consist of Malnar, Emfam, Orbak, Lardeth, Gorfanth, Reb, Jeefef, Foresna, my mom, Hanako, Elmpam, Ufnamfa, Teefmanam, Marshii, Malak, and Melandra with Orbak as the team leader. The other team that will deal with the invisible object will consist of Aldarval, Endram, Twirja, Empria, myself, Patrica, Roomef, Pofomofo, Falnii, my dad, Elgrad, Olmarfa, Feymay, Denstra, Bashoon, and Thangred with Aldarval as the one in charge.”

“Thirty you have named, yet I only see twenty-nine,” remarked Hanjar. “Where is the last?”

“HERE!” called a Human lady as she rushed up to them. She wore a pink gown and had her hair done up in a ponytail resting on the top of her head.

“Empria Dewlna, so kind of you to join us!” snarled Aldarval. Arsha ran her hand down her face.

“Madam, this is a war situation. Why are you dressed like you’re going to a ball?”

“Come on, this is a reason to celebrate!” cheered Empria. “Somehow, I know in my soul, the Crelima survived!”

“We don’t know if it IS the Crelima,” remarked Orbak.

“This was where the Crelima crashed, so what else COULD it be?”

“So this…person,” remarked Erudsa, “is going to be joining the invisible object team?”

“Sure am!” answered Empria. “I have reason to believe that there’s a top-secret Realmfleet experiment on board!”

“Is that what this is about?” asked Twirja. “You’re after that experiment?”

“Empria, the project’s probably been totaled, whatever it is,” continued Endram.

“…Not even YOU know?” asked Erudsa.

“I tried digging around when I became King, but it was classified Code Black, tenth level. Royalty wasn’t supposed to know, for some odd reason. Raised a few red flags for me.”

“Come on, Ears!” urged Empria. “The project will be exactly what tips the war in our favor!”

“That remains to be seen.”

“Do you mind assistance from us?” asked Erudsa.

“I wish to observe the fortress team’s handling of the situation,” explained Hanjar.

“And I want to know how the invisible object problem will be resolved,” continued Erudsa.

“We don’t mind at all,” assured Arsha. “We would appreciate the help in getting these matters resolved. With that, I turn over the next stage to the team leaders.”

“For my team, we need to do some scouting,” decided Orbak. “Find out how many are in the fortress, what banners they’re flying, who the Overlord is, etc.”

“Overlord?” asked Hanjar.

“Fortresses are commanded by a central figure called an Overlord. We take out the Overlord, replace them with a new one, perhaps one of your soldiers, and we should be good.”

“You would give us the fortress?”

“In a heartbeat.”

“Meanwhile,” interjected Aldarval, “if it IS the Crelima, we’re going inside to figure out why it’s invisible. Unless, of course, Empria wants to divulge why and save us the trouble.”

“Sorry, Admiral,” answered Empria, “that’s a need-to-know basis.”

“And I NEED to know!”

“Not according to Realmfleet Security. It’s still tenth level Code Black. Only those directly involved in the project need to know.”

“…I see. Well then, we better get going. I want these matters settled ASAP.” The teams then headed off to their locations, Orbak’s team heading north and Aldarval’s going west. Aldarval then spoke softly to Erudsa. “Can Gorgons only partially petrify someone?”

“It takes an incredible amount of focus, but yes. I’m one of those that can do that. Why?” asked the Gorgon Queen.

“I don’t know as I can trust Empria right now. She’s acting way too secretive for my liking. Could I avail upon your abilities if she tries to go against us all?”

“…Very well.”

“Thank you.” They then dropped the subject, keeping it in reserve until such a time came up.

Transformers: Mobian Chronicles Transformers: Mobian Chronicles (Arc 16: The Unicron Games)

TMC 16-1

A tank rolled through a railway’s scrap yard, its barrel moving back and forth as if it were looking for something. As it rolled, its pilot, a human man dressed like a pompous gentleman, was using his radio. “Deceptitran, this is Straxus!” he snarled angrily. “Deceptitran, report! Where are you, you fat idiot?!” No one responded. “…Dammit, this isn’t the time to play hide and seek! Come in!” Still no response. “…Fine, we’ll play this game!” The man disappeared and the tank turned into a massive robot. Straxus activated a wrist-mounted flashlight and looked around the scrap yard. “If I were an overweight, gluttonous, imitation Chompazoid, where would I be?” He kept looking around the mountains of derelict metal. Old engines of all types, steam, diesel, electric, were rusting away, waiting for their final end to be melted down in the Smelter’s Shed so the metal would be cleaned of impurities and recycled into something new. “Come on out!” roared Straxus. He then saw the outline of a fat robot, just a head smaller than him, with wheels instead of legs. “There you are!” he roared. “What’s the idea?! Why have you not reported back?!” There was no response. “…Deceptitran?” Straxus’ anger was replaced with a little fear. “…Deceptitran, please say something.” The head then tumbled off the body! Straxus yelped and shined his light on the head. The optics were offline, and the color of the helmet was gunmetal gray! He then looked at the body to see a massive hole blown through the torso where the Spark Chamber would be! Straxus was now terrified! That was two Terrorcons down!

“Quite the sight, is it not?” came a voice over Straxus’ radio. The voice was raspy and gave Straxus a clue about the culprit’s identity.

“Where are you, Megatron?!” he called, trying to hide his fear. “Show yourself!”

“So eager to meet your death?” replied Megatron. “Well, I’m all to happy to oblige!” A tank of a different design then burst from one of the scrap piles and then transformed into the Decepticon Lord! “YOU WORM!” he roared as he activated his concealed arm-mounted sword and brought it down towards Straxus. Straxus blocked with his axe and the weapons became locked! “You’ll pay for this betrayal, Straxus! I’m angry! Blisteringly so! And do you know what happens when I become so angry? I’ll give you a hint, people die!”

“You don’t frighten me, Megatron!” snarled Straxus. “Unlike you, I’ve learned to choose my allies wisely!” He managed to untangle his axe and shoved Megatron backwards. Megatron fell to his knee and panted. Straxus continued talking. “You’re nothing but a bad joke! What were you thinking, joining forces with Optimus Prime and the Autobots?! He’s your enemy, remember?! …Or is it that you want to get back to your old Autobot roots? You honestly expect me to grovel to someone like that? Pah! Not likely! I have no need for you! All we ever did, since you became Lord, was fight one meaningless battle after another! What was the point?! You wanted to control Cybertron AND the universe but…we both know that will never happen now! Starscream’s departure from your little team proved that you lost control of the Decepticons! So, what kind of a leader does that make you if you can’t manage your own kind?! A pretty poor one, if you ask me! Unicron, on the other hand, is COMPLETELY different! His power is enormous! He’s totally invincible! And, with someone like us Terrorcons to advise him on matters of importance, like which planets to obliterate and who’s solar system to enslave, well, I see no reason why we shouldn’t have a successful partnership!”

“You always DID like the sound of your own voice,” muttered Megatron. The radio was still on, so Straxus heard that and became enraged.

“I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL UNICRON BLASTS YOU TO PIECES AND I SCATTER YOUR DUST ALL OVER THE UNIVERSE!” Straxus raised his axe and Megatron…fired a stream of lightning at him! The attack took Straxus by surprise and overloaded his systems. This treatment lasted for a few second before Megatron stopped. Straxus then fell backwards, smoking from the attack.

“Like you once said,” chuckled Megatron. “Talking excessively leads to defeat…Master.”

Straxus slowly came back online. His optics returned to their crisp state as he took in the surroundings. He was in some sort of large shed, and he was held in place by a large mechanical claw. The diagnostics report came in. He blinked as he read it. It indicated a malfunction in his T-cog and his weapons systems. “…Locus. Locus. Locus. Locus.” He chanted for a good minute until horror set in…he COULDN’T use magic. “Wha…? Wha-who…?”

“Me, obviously, my old teacher.” Megatron’s holo-form stepped from the shadows. “Did you get your diagnostics report yet? …Good. Let me help clarify the errors.” He pulled a cloth back and revealed a T-cog and a metal brick with wires coming out of the smaller sides. “And the reason you can’t simply use Locus is because I cast Resigno on you three times over while you were unconscious. You CAN’T use magic anymore.”

“…My student, you disappoint me,” sighed Straxus. “You had your chance to kill me, and you didn’t take it.”

“I needed you to see HOW you would die.” Megatron then pressed a button and the floor beneath Straxus opened to reveal a smelting pool. Megatron then tossed the T-cog and Weapons System link into the molten metal and Straxus observed them melting into the liquid material. He then looked desperately for something near the claw that was restraining him, anything to get him out of there and avoid that grisly fate! When he saw none, he looked at Megatron. “Take solace, you will be the last to die via smelting pool. Quite a way to go. Given your predilections, it’s only justice that you die in the same manner as your victims. Now, you’re wondering what happened to Deceptitran. How did he get that hole in his chest? Simple, he served as an adequate test of my being able to use the Requiem Blaster. Yes, that’s right. The Three Powers have been reforged. Optimus added a link to the Matrix, so they aren’t limited to just a Prime. Unicron’s going to be experiencing a tougher time than he prepared for. Now, on the subject of what comes after you, it’s obvious I’ll need to seek out an apprentice. I’ve learned all that I needed from you as a Necromancer.”

“Megatron! Wait!” begged Straxus. “I didn’t mean what I said! We can work something out! I can teach you more techniques!”

“I already told you, I learned all that I needed from you. However, I WILL be altering things a bit. That ridiculous ‘Rule of Two’, for a start, that’s going bye-bye. My apprentice won’t need to kill me to be a new master. There will be a new order, the Black Order of Mages. Perhaps a White Order will rise to balance it out, I’m not sure. In any case, now that I’ve tested the Requiem Blaster, I’m joining Optimus’ team in the Unicron Games. We’re going to beat your master next week. So, I’ll give you two options! Either I shoot you in the head, here and now,” Straxus shook his head in a terrified manner, “or you can get yourself out of your situation before you meet your molten end! And, if you do, there will be nowhere to hide!” Megatron then pressed a button on the control panel, and the claw restraining Straxus descended, bringing him closer to the smelting pool.


“Straxus, if you dare to have dreams of power above your station and mental faculty, you WILL be consumed by them!” The claw was now level with the opening and released Straxus. He tumbled into the molten metal and screamed in agony. The heat overloaded his systems as he thrashed around before his brain shut down and his Spark faded. Straxus was now offline. Megatron then hauled Deceptitran’s head and body into the smelting pool and let the molten metal do its work. He then raised the claw and closed the pool’s cover. He then pressed another button and more machinery whirred to life, separating the impurities from the rest of the metal, and pouring it into molds, ready to be used for construction. Megatron then made a policy change concerning executions. The Smelting Pools are only to be used for the disposal of corpses, not as a means of execution. He then left the scrap yard, heading to the rendezvous point.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 4: Trials of Light and Dark)

3 Realms 4-25

The Royal Families had arrived at the Falchineve Colony’s main entrance cave. They met with the colony’s leaders, King Hekcho and Queen Yumbii Tolandah. “We’re so glad you could make it in these times of war,” greeted Hekcho as he and his wife shook their hands. “We’re in a really tight spot!”

“The Gorgons are starting to encroach on our own territories,” explained Yumbii, “and the Gryphons have been spotted patrolling the mountaintops, against our agreement!”

“We need your help, something fierce!” pleaded Hekcho.

“Well, that’s why we’re here,” assured Emfam. “Can we arrange a meeting with the leaders of the Gryphons and Gorgons?”

“Easily,” answered Yumbii. “We have one set up already at Meeting Mountain.”

“Then let’s get to it,” declared Orbak. The Tolandahs led everyone to a mountain that sat in the center of the colony. At the northern base of the mountain was a table. There were two parties already there. One consisted of beasts with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion while the head and front paws were replaced with the head and taloned feet of eagles. They also possessed eagle wings and carried an air of smugness about them. These were the Gryphons. The other party consisted of reptilian creatures with snakes for hair. The snakes were still as stone and silent, merely draping down like long hair. Some of the creatures had a snake tail like a Naga while others possessed two legs. These were the Gorgons. One female Gorgon with a snake tail examined her claws as she waited while a male Gryphon observed the party approaching them.

“Everyone, I present King Hanjar of the Gryphons and Queen Erudsa of the Gorgons,” introduced Hekcho.

“A pleasure to meet you,” greeted Emfam.

“Yes, I’m sure it is,” scoffed Hanjar.

“We’ll make this brief,” hissed Erudsa. “You’ve constructed a fort in Gryphon territory and placed an invisible object in an area that was supposed to be set aside for farmland for Gorgons.”

“Your Majesty, I assure you,” replied Orbak, “we did no such thing.”

“Oh? Then explain the design of the fortress!” Hanjar snapped his talons and a servant stepped forward. The servant drew a scroll out of her pouch and laid it out on the table. It was a sketch of the fortress. It was surrounded by walls of terrifying architecture, each wall corner holding a tower with a gate in the center, four surrounding a larger tower, and smaller supply buildings in between the towers. “Under-realm design, is it not?” asked Hanjar.

“…It is,” answered Orbak, “but something doesn’t add up. When did your scouts discover this?”

“Yesterday morning.”

“Fortresses that elaborate take almost a year.”

“There were concealment spells placed around the build site. One of your people got careless and didn’t cast one properly, allowing my scouts to see the gate and counteract the spells so they could see the entire fort.”

“We have reason to believe,” continued Erudsa, “that such a thing is happening in our lands. We have only a rough outline after feeling its perimeter.” She took out another scroll and showed off the outline. Arsha goggled at the picture. It was the outline of a Dauntless-class skyship.

“That’s impossible!” she breathed. “Who would hide building a ship like that?!”

“Well, who?” asked Erudsa.

“Your Majesties, we have no clue who’s behind this!” argued Arsha. “For all we know, this is something Oyed’s planned!”

“You would naturally shift blame to Oyed?” asked Hanjar.

“Who else could it be?” retorted Malnar.

“Impossible,” answered Erudsa. “Oyed has given us his word that he’s not behind this. He outlined how Realmfleet would stoop to such tactics.”

“Against him, yes!”

“Which leads me to my personal question, why go against him?”

“Because he’s gonna kill us all, regardless of whether or not certain people are loyal to him!”

“She’s right,” urged Endram. “If we let Oyed have his way, we’d only be burying the future.”

“…You really want us to believe that this isn’t Realmfleet’s doing?” asked Hanjar.

“We do.”

“…Then attempt to prove it. If you can solve what’s going on and clear Realmfleet’s name, we’ll join you.”

“If not, we join Oyed and burn Realmfleet to the ground,” continued Erudsa.

“…Fair enough,” declared Orbak. “Shall we see each other again tomorrow morning? We’ll have a plan to show you we’re not at fault by then.”

“Very well,” replied Hanjar. “You have until Early Morning. Let’s say…6:25. I will see how you handle the fort situation and Erudsa shall observe how the invisible ‘ship’ is dealt with.”

“We’ll see you all then.” At Orbak’s declaration, everyone departed from the table.

“6:25, Daddy?!” hissed Malnar. “It’s 18:00 right now! That only gives us our remaining seven hours today before we have to hit the hay! We can’t possibly have a plan by then!”

“Actually, I think I have a solution,” interjected Arsha.

“Oh?” asked Malnar.

“We can divide into two teams. One team will be with Hanjar and the other will be with Erudsa.”

“And who will be the team leaders?” asked Endram.

“And who will be accompanying them?” supplied Lardeth.

“I have the team leaders already; I just need the rest of the teams.”

“Oh? And who ARE the team leaders?”

“Because of his knowledge of Under-realm Fortresses, I was thinking Orbak can lead the fort team. That leaves Aldarval to the invisible ship.”

“Me, Captain?” asked Aldarval.

“Well, you ARE the superior officer around here.”

“…Fair enough. Very well. Assemble our teams.”

“Aye, Ma’am.”

Dr. Borg took a walk. A grin was plain on her face. Oyed ordered everyone to hold position and not get involved. After a scout had reported that the Gryphons and Gorgons threatened to join the Realm Trinity Empire, she was initially stunned that they would do so without any convincing from their side. After the reports were confirmed, she became more confident in the plan. It was only logical. The Gryphons and Gorgons were too prideful to work with Realmfleet. Their isolationist policies ensured that. As she walked, she bumped into Remsu. “Ah, my bride!” she greeted. “And how are we today?”

“Enjoying some much-needed downtime,” answered Remsu. “Just wanted to tell you that our veiled hubby’s challenged Oyed to Liar’s Dice.”

“Liar’s Dice? I’m unfamiliar with that game.”

“It’s a betting game our pirate friends play. It’s become quite popular among the soldiers.”

“How is it played?” Remsu led Dr. Borg to the game as she explained the rules.

“Each player has five six-sided dice in a cup. They shake the cup, then place it upside-down to hide the dice. One player then declares a certain number of a certain face, not just for their dice, but for all dice in play. For example, you would say that there are two threes. The other person would then either say ‘Liar’, after which you would reveal your dice to see whether or not you were right, or the person would up the bid, three threes. After that, it’s your decision. At which point, a third option becomes available. You can either call ‘Liar’, up the bid, or say three of another die-face, like three fours.”

“You said it was a betting game.”

“Yep. They’re just betting money right now.”

“And Tensam and Oyed are playing right now?”

“That’s right. Ah, here we are!” They arrived at a crowd surrounding a table with Oyed on one end and Tensam on the other.

“Four sixes,” called Tensam.

“Five sixes,” replied Oyed.

“Six sixes!”

“…Seven sixes.”

“LIAR!” Oyed and Tensam then lifted their cups. Out of ten dice, seven were showing six! Tensam was stunned. “Man, my Lord! You pick up the nuances of this game fast!” He handed over 20 golds.

“I challenge Oyed!” called Dr. Borg. Everyone turned to her in amazement.

“…I accept,” purred Oyed. “How much are you willing to risk?”

“I wager everything I own.” Oyed scoffed at that offer.

“With someone as dangerous as you, I’ll only bet on what’s dearest to one’s heart, else there’s no way to tell if they’re bluffing. What one is willing to risk or not is a measure of their soul.”

“…Very well, my soul in eternal servitude to you.”

“NO!” shouted Remsu and Tensam.

“And what would you get out of this?” asked Oyed.

“You take orders from me and my fellow Council Members.” Oyed’s face then became one of shock and anger at such a demand.

“…Cytanek Yavenag Borg, be prepared to lose your soul!” hissed the Titan.

“Then it’s agreed?” Dr. Borg placed her dice in the cup and held it up.

“…Agreed!” Oyed did the same. They then shook their cups and slammed them upside-down onto the table. They peeked under their respective cup. “Since you challenged me, Doctor, it’s your bet.” Dr. Borg considered what would be the safest bet to make.

“Two threes.”

“Somewhere along the way, you became desperate,” chuckled Oyed as he checked his dice. “What the cause may be, it can only be related to your spouses. Three threes.”

“Spouses need not cause you to be desperate if you choose the right spouses. Four threes.”

“I recall your goals now. You’re the one that hopes to create peace among the Realms. But your fate is to create chaos in my name for my amusement!”

“I choose my own fate.”

“Then it wouldn’t be fate, would it? Five threes!” Dr. Borg checked her cup once more before deciding her next actions.

“Five sixes!” The crowd talked amongst itself, trying to determine her reasoning. Oyed chuckled.

“Liar!” They then revealed their dice. Out of all ten, five were sixes! Oyed was visibly upset, then he regained his composure. “What is thy bidding, my master?”

“If and when Realmfleet manages to overcome this and recruit the Gorgons and Gryphons to their side,” she commanded, “you are to kill Arsha Royana. Kill her and morale will dip for all the Realms.”

“…It shall be done.” Oyed departed from the table and room. The crowd dispersed, each person chatting with one another as they left the room. Only Tensam and Remsu remained with Dr. Borg. After a small silence, one of Tensam’s tentacles brought Dr. Borg up to his and Remsu’s faces.

“Of all the dumbass gambles you could have made, this took the cake!” he hissed.

“What were you thinking?!” snarled Remsu. “For all you know, Oyed could disobey us, and he could still take your soul!”

“The master plan will be ready by the time he tries,” replied Dr. Borg.

“For your sake, I hope so!” growled Tensam as he released her. He and Remsu then stormed out. Dr. Borg sat back down and idly examined one of the dice, smirking as she did.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 4: Trials of Light and Dark)

3 Realms 4-24

The Sphinxes were invited to the Manticore Kingdom to negotiate how the Manticores would make amends for what they did, regardless of whether or not Oyed had ordered it. The meeting was going to take some time, so the fleet was ordered to make their way to the Falchineve Drider Colony in the Over-realm’s Southern Continent. On the way, Arsha had rediscovered Mordek in his quarters. “My Lord!” she yelped. “I didn’t expect you to come back!”

“I had to come back when I felt a Candidate’s Aura,” explained Mordek. Arsha’s face fell. “…You fear that power, don’t you?”

“Yeah, big time. It’s too much power for one person.”

“Would it ease you if I said other groups of Divine Ones felt a Candidate’s Aura from your lovers?” Arsha then gave Mordek her full attention. “Yes, you’re not alone, neither in power, nor fear of that power.”

“You mean…any of them can cause physical damage to Oyed?”

“That’s one of the perks.”

“But…but I thought…I mean, the prophecy said only one person can be the Champion!”

“That’s not entirely correct. Yes, historically, one person has become our Champion, but we made it possible for multiple Champions. In this war, I’d say we need all the Champions we can get.” The instant his sentence finished, Arsha beamed. “Just keep this between you, your lovers, and me and my brethren.”

“Of course, Lord Mordek.” Arsha bowed before she headed off to her quarters to tell her lovers what she learned.

As the fleet made its way to the Falchineve Drider Colony, Oyed was listening to a report about his forces. “My Lord, there’s no use arguing facts,” muttered Dr. Borg, “we don’t have the numbers to fulfill your goals. And with an enemy fleet on the way here, we don’t stand much chance!”

“They wouldn’t dare bombard the Falchineve Colony,” replied Oyed. “They would have to destroy the mountains to get to us. This is no retreat; this is us taking the Colony hostage.”

“And suppose Arsha gets a better handle on her Candidate’s aura?”

“I have a plan in mind to prevent that.”

“I hope so, morale’s dipping drastically. Our troops are at risk of losing their blind loyalty to you.”

“…I really wish you didn’t say that.”

As the Endeavor entered the Over-realm, Arsha made her way to the conference room. She had been told by Falnii that the All-realm Royals wanted to speak with their children and Aldarval. She had been held up as an Engineer needed something signed off. When she finished, she entered the conference room to see Aldarval putting her foot down on something. “Out of the question!” she barked.

“Admiral, that isn’t your decision to make,” replied Orbak.

“Daddy, you can’t be serious!” argued Malnar.

“Ah, there’s my daughter!” called Elgrad.

“Everyone, what’s going on?” asked Arsha as she took her seat.

“Our parents are joining us on the front lines in the Falchineve Colony!” replied Lardeth.

“Says who?!” argued Arsha.

“Says us!” replied Elgrad.

“And you’re in charge?!”

“Elgrad, King, yeah!”

“Arsha, Princess, no! You’re painting a big, honking, red and white target on your backs! You really think Dr. Borg won’t catch wind of this and order her soldiers to target you guys?!”

“My arguments against this exactly!” supplied Aldarval. “Your Majesties, I must insist that you stay in the castles!”

“We’ve been conducting this war from the sidelines for too long!” shouted Emfam. “We need to join our troops!”

“We’ve already made the decision! Whether or not you approve makes no difference!” snapped Elmpam. “We’re joining you, end of discussion!” Their part of the call ended, leaving Aldarval and the heirs alone.

“…I say this with all the loyalty I have for them,” growled Aldarval, “but your parents are being stupid!”

“That’s putting it mildly, Admiral,” remarked Malnar.

“Well, there’s nothing for it,” sighed Arsha. “They’re probably going to be deaf to any arguments we have.”

“I hate to admit when you’re right on matters like this,” muttered Lardeth as he folded his arms.

“In the meantime,” interjected Aldarval, “we know why the enemy’s retreated to the Falchineve Colony. Apparently, the Gryphons and Gorgons pledged their allegiance to Oyed a while ago.”

“But they aren’t extinct! We’ve had interactions since the First Age!” reminded Arsha.

“They’re also isolationist societies,” recalled Malnar. “They don’t like to interact with outsiders, not even those loyal to Oyed.”

“So their ancestors may have pledged their loyalty to him,” mused Lardeth, “but not their current descendants.”

“Not according to intelligence reports,” sighed Aldarval. “They’re threatening to join him unless we ‘remove our property’ from their lands.”

“Our property?” asked Arsha.

“Yes, a Realmfleet fortress is trying to encroach on their lands, according to them, and there’s something invisible that’s preventing them from expanding.”

“We better take care of it,” mused Arsha. “Do we have any idea who’s in charge of the fort?”

“Reports say it’s a two-headed Troll,” answered Aldarval.

“Two-headed?” asked Malnar. “Usually those with two heads argue constantly with each other.”

“Yeah, well, it’s rumored that this one’s wicked smart and agreeable with themself.”

“Do we have any two-headed Trolls in our ranks?” quizzed Lardeth.

“We had one, my brother. He died defending Rokanth.”

“Then who’s the mystery two-headed Troll?” mused Arsha. “Like I said, we’ll take care of the fortress and the invisible thing. …You know, this might be what keeps our parents off the front lines!”

“I think you got something there!” replied Lardeth.

“Darn right, she does!” agreed Aldarval. “Captain Royana, make a pair of teams and inform your parents of the situation! By taking care of this, they’ll still be fighting against Oyed!”

“Will do! Arsha out!” The call ended and Arsha breathed a huge sigh of relief.

“Arsha, you just saved us from an early coronation!” breathed Malnar.

“No kidding!” agreed Arsha.

“Well, how shall we do this?” mused Lardeth.

“We’ve got two hours to plan this out,” declared Arsha. “We need to decide who takes care of what.” Arsha, Lardeth, and Malnar then spent the rest of the trip planning out how to take care of the situation with the Gryphons and Gorgons.

Transformers: Mobian Chronicles Transformers: Mobian Chronicles (Arc 15: The Second Journey)

TMC 15-10

The Terrorcons saw what had happened through Rodimus Unicronus’ eyes and ears. Nemesis Prime was pacing in the throne room as Unicron was on the phone with someone while draped across the throne. Circuit Breaker was babbling to herself in a large birdcage by the throne. “This is bad!” gulped Nemesis. “This is REALLY bad! We’ve got a Prime who could upend everything! We can’t afford to lose any more Terrorcons! We need the enforcers! …Master?” Nemesis looked back at Unicron and groaned. “Master, how are you so calm?!” Unicron held up his pointer finger, telling his servant to give him a minute. Nemesis rolled his eyes as Unicron continued his call.

“Look, I understand that you sponsor all kinds of sporting events,” he remarked, “but, just so we’re clear, you DO realize everyone dies if I win, right?” The caller then pled its case. “…Uh huh. …Yes. …Right. …Yeah, I guess it WOULD be a win-win for you, wouldn’t it? All right, then, it’s officially the Unicron Games presented by Chaos-Cola!”

“I know someone who would kill for a Chaos-Cola right now!” called a third voice.

“WHOA! PRIMUS!” yelped Unicron as he and Nemesis saw Optimus.

“Nah, just Optimus,” snarked the young Prime.

“Need to put a bell on you!” muttered Nemesis as he took in a breath.

“Listen, something just came up,” Unicron explained to the person on the phone. “How about your people call mine and we’ll do lunch, all right? …All right, perfect! Bye!” He then hung up. “I swear, Optimus, you can give a guy an Anti-Spark attack popping in like that! I wasn’t expecting you for another two months! Must look a mess! We just got done touching up the ring, fixing one of the TOWERS!” he glared at Nemesis.

“I told you, the bomb wasn’t MY idea!” protested Nemesis. “I just suggested the food dye!”

“…WHAT?!” asked Optimus, confused at what his doppelganger said.

“Kids these days, I swear!” grunted Unicron. He then snapped his fingers as if he remembered. “Hey, why don’t we check out the arena? Nemesis, bring Ms. Beller with us, will you?” Nemesis bowed and picked up the cage as Unicron led everyone to the castle’s rear, where the arena was located. Optimus looked around the place as Unicron and Nemesis looked at him. “…Well?” asked Unicron after a few minutes. “What do you think of our glorious battleground?”

“…It’s all right,” replied Optimus in a noncommitted tone. “Kinda small, isn’t it?”

“Nemesis was trying to go for intimidation,” explained Unicron, “but I would say it’s…intimate!”

“Well, I ain’t feeling none of those things.”

“Oh, but you should be feeling intimidation at the very least! Because, in this arena, we will decide the fate of not only this boring blue ball of dirt and water, but the ENTIRE universe! So you had best bring your A-game, Optimus Prime, because the stakes…have NEVER been higher!” Unicron then laughed a dark laugh. Optimus then got a goofy grin. “No, don’t even try,” Unicron had abruptly stopped laughing. “I won’t have that kind of foolishness from you. Don’t even pretend I mentioned the meat.”

“…I wasn’t gonna ask if the prize was steak.”

“Yes, you were.”

“All right, so I was. Just humor me for a cycle. What is the prize?”

“Living! …Also, a lifetime supply of Chaos-Cola!”

“You know, they say ‘lifetime’, but they don’t consider the lifespan of the winner’s species. Anyway, I just came to announce my intention for me and two others to fight you in the Unicron Games as a team.”

“Bring as many as you wish, it won’t change my victory.”

“You know, we DID set up a hotline for people to declare their participation,” remarked Nemesis.

“I wanted to measure your master up in person,” explained Optimus. “And, Lord Unicron, I gotta say…nice!”

“Baby, you know it!” chuckled Unicron.

“Are you using a new wax?”

“Terrapin Metal Wax.”

“Really leaves a shine on your chassis, doesn’t it?”

“I take it you use it?”

“Yep! Well, I’ve seen all I need. Now, I’m off to go train with my teammates and prepare for the fight. See you in two months!”

“It’s a date!” Optimus then rang Teletraan.

“I’m all finished here. Bridge me back!” A Ground Bridge opened near him, and Optimus strode confidently through. As the bridge closed, Unicron turned to Nemesis.

“I’m gonna miss him when he’s gone,” he remarked.

“I won’t,” replied Nemesis. Unbeknownst to them, Circuit Breaker had stopped making noises and had heard the conversation with a clearer mind.

Optimus arrived back in the command center. “So,” remarked Megatron as he greeted Optimus, “Unicron knows about you, I see?”

“Knowing him, he’s probably not taking me all that seriously,” replied Optimus. “Probably thinking the Matrix is at its pre-bricking levels. Speaking of which, I need to get started on the Three Powers and their duplicates.”

“The materials are all arranged according to the list you sent Teletraan.”

“That will make it easier. I must forge them alone.”

“We’ve got a forge-room all set up.” Megatron led Optimus to a separate room where the Forge sat on the Creation Lathe. Six piles of materials sat to the left of the Lathe.

“I can take it from here,” assured Optimus.

“Very well,” answered Megatron as he left. Optimus then moved one of the piles onto the Lathe and keyed in a command. The pile then floated in the air and arranged itself into a large cylinder. He took up the Forge…then saw a reflection in it. It looked like he was back to Orion Pax.

“Wait, did I…?” he yelped before calming down. “You’re my past journey, aren’t you?”

“I am,” answered the reflection. “Be careful.”

“…I know. This…this has never happened to me before.”

“What will you do?”

“For the immediate future? I’ve got the Three Powers and their duplicates to forge. After that, do what I can to win the Unicron Games. …Beyond that…I don’t know.” The reflection faded from the Forge. Optimus sighed before returning his attention to his work.

“Solus Prime, I pray to you, guide my blows,” he wished.

“Happy to help where I can,” answered Solus’ voice. A spectral silhouette of her arm then surrounded his. Optimus adjusted his grip on the Forge and, with a roar, swung it hard onto the materials. He swung repeatedly and with great ferocity. As the Forge hit its mark, the materials were being rearranged on the molecular level while an outline of a large rifle flashed with each strike. Optimus refused to stop until the work was complete.

Transformers: Mobian Chronicles Transformers: Mobian Chronicles (Arc 15: The Second Journey)

TMC 15-9

Optimus and his team tore through the horde with relative ease. Rodimus Unicronus then leapt onto Optimus and started punching. Optimus bucked him off and swung a punch right into his chest, continually shoving it and making him gasp. “STOP…DOING THAT!” roared Rodimus Unicronus.

“Okay,” replied Optimus as he quickly pulled his fist back. The sudden return to normal caused Rodimus Unicronus to gasp as air rushed into his air intake.

“NOT ALL AT ONCE! ARGH!” He doubled over and gasped. “Just…can I…have a cycle?!”

“…Sureyoucan!” replied Optimus.

“Well…thank you!” panted Unicronus. “That’s appre…!” Optimus then slammed an uppercut into his opponent’s jaw, sending him flying into the air. Optimus then leapt after him, grabbed his leg, and swung him to the ground.

“C-C-C-COMBO!” he shouted. Unicronus then hit the ground hard, face first. After that…a voice escaped his…erm…rear.

“Oh ho ho ho!” he laughed. “This is an unfortunate turn of events!” Optimus was…visibly disturbed.

“Did you just…literally…talk out your aft?”

“Well-” Rodimus Unicronus was now speaking through his mouth as he stood up- “to be fair, I DID dwell within the Matrix while my timeline’s version of you was Prime.”

“Ooh! That’s the closest you’ve done to damage since I got here!”

“Allow me to fix that! RODIMUS UNICRONUS, BLOOD-DRINKER MODE!” His super mode was like Rodimus’, just with a different color scheme. “There! Now, do you understand, Optimus?!”

‘What I understand is that I’m gonna give you a beating worse than the Primes did when you were Unicron!” Unicronus blinked.

“…How did…?”

“Silver and Grimlock filled Teletraan 1 in on the details.”

“And he told you. Riveting.”

“Now, because I believe in a fair fight, I’ll give you a free shot. I warn you, though, you better…” Unicronus then punched him in the face. Optimus…then chuckled, scaring the Terrorcon. “You better make it count!” He then wiped a bit of leaked Energon off his cheek. By now, Rodimus Unicronus was terrified.

“How?! HOW?! HOW DID YOU GET THIS STRONG?!” he demanded.

“I’ve been training and fighting for survival these past ten months!”

“Oh, you think you’re being CUTE!”

“Glitch, I’m adorable!” Optimus then dropped his smile. “You, on the other hand, need to be torn apart for all the pain you caused Mobius and her people! I heard through the grapevine that you’re the one that permanently weakened Chip so Gaia would be the only one to beat Unicron in any significant fashion! With how long it would have taken to wake her up, Mobius would have been gone by then! You, your comrades, and your master are aphids and I’m the ladybug ready to devour you! OPTIMUS PRIME, SUPER MODE!” The trailer then activated its rocket boosters and flew into the air as it unfolded and then folded again into a pair of legs with giant guns mounted on the back. Optimus’ feet then folded into the legs as hands took their place and the lower torso split at the crotch. They then swung up to the arms and united to become thicker arms and hands. Optimus then linked with the legs at the waist and a helmet came down over his head with golden piping pointing to the back of the head for the antennae and a gold hexagon on the forehead. He activated a gold mouth plate and landed back on the ground. Rodimus Unicronus was terrified as the others were in awe.

“HOLY…!” breathed Bumblebee.

“SCRAP!” continued Jazz.

“AWESOME!” cheered Blackarachnia.

“Oh, Optimus,” sighed Megatron in annoyance, “you and your fancy gadgets.”

“I hope you understand,” Optimus snarled to Rodimus Unicronus, “that this is YOUR specific end!”

“Wait, surely we can come to some arrangement to satisfy your warrior’s pride!” begged Unicronus.


“You see, I’m only at half my full power!”

“I don’t see how that’s my concern.”

“I-If you let me power up, I’ll…I’ll give you an…Energon Pizza!”

“You killed innocent people! That’s not gonna work!”

“Two Energon Pizzas!”



“SPARKPLUG, POWERLINX!” Sparkplug transformed, flew to Optimus’ shoulder, and linked up. There was a significant power boost to the weapons systems. “Now, light our darkest hour!” he prayed to the Matrix.

“We’d be delighted to,” replied Prima’s voice in his head. The Matrix then flooded Optimus with more power. Rodimus Unicronus then whimpered in fright before turning and running away.

“PHASE BLASTERS: MAXIMUM FIRE!” The guns on his back then swung up and folded to rest on his shoulders before unleashing massive twin streams of laser fire. The beams hit their target and engulfed him. Rodimus Unicronus…was then reduced to nothing more than useless hunks of twisted and burned metal. The beams died and the body’s pieces fell to the ground, gunmetal gray and lifeless. Rodimus Unicronus…was now offline. The zombie-bots then fell, lifeless as well. Without a Terrorcon to control them, they were just bodies. As everyone stood there panting, the sun came out.

“…Where were you earlier?” asked Cosmo to the sun. Everyone then rushed to meet with Optimus as he returned to his normal robot mode and Sparkplug flew off of his shoulder, transforming to his own robot mode.

“That…was…AMAZING!” cheered Bumblebee.

“Thanks, Bumblebee,” panted Optimus. He then wiped his brow. “That was a bit of a drain! Not as much as my old super mode, but still enough to warrant training that form up.”

“Did I see it all correctly?” asked Yoketron. “Did my sensei assist you?!”

“I did,” replied Sparkplug.

“Oh, peachy!” groaned Clench. “My hated enemy and I have to work with him.”

“Ah, Clench, you’re here as well. Still slumming with the Decepticons?”

“I go with the side that causes the most mayhem and the Decepticons cause that in spades! Wanna see my partner?!” He gestured to Megatron.

“An honor to meet you,” greeted the Decepticon Lord in a mocking tone.

“Hey! Show some respect!” snapped Jazz. “He helped Optimus complete an Optics’ Quest!”

“Optimus, Sensei Sparkplug, does Jazz speak truly?” asked Yoketron.

“He does, my old student,” confirmed Sparkplug. Yoketron grinned.

“Yet another student makes me proud. …No, a BROTHER makes me proud. Optimus Prime, as your sensei, I recognize you as a full-fledged member of the Autobot Cyber-Ninja Corps!”

“Thank you, Sensei Yoketron,” replied Optimus. “Not only for this…but for putting up with my impatient aft all these years.”

“You were…challenging, but you grew and changed. Now you’re ready to see if you can reach the rank of Grandmaster.”

“Actually, I’m renouncing my candidacy for the position. This journey taught me that I have enough power as it is and I don’t need, or, deep down, WANT any more.”

“…If that is your wish, then so be it. But, my pride for you has not dimmed. Congratulations, Optimus Prime.”

“Yes, yes, hooray, Optimus can fight like Naruto!” grunted Megatron. “But there IS a more pressing concern.”

“Yes, Rodimus’ evil twin probably transmitted intel about my reclaiming Primehood,” remarked Optimus. “Which is why I must first announce my intention to fight in the Unicron Games in two months.”

“What about…?!”

“In the meantime, I have a gift for us!” Optimus then opened his trailer and pulled out his desk. After noting the confused looks, Optimus keyed in a command and the desk became the Creation Lathe.

“…You’ve been propping your feet on a relic of the Prime?!” yelped Prowl.

“Yeah, Solus gave me an audioful when the truth became apparent,” winced Optimus. “Which means I need to either break the habit or get a new desk so I can still prop my feet up.”

“Hold on, if that’s the Creation Lathe, where’s the Forge?!” asked Bumblebee.

“…Strapped to your back, it looks like.” Optimus then pointed to Bumblebee’s sheathed weapon, the Magnus Hammer. Bumblebee handed Optimus the hammer, then Optimus pressed three buttons on the handle in a certain order. The hammer then shrunk and compressed itself into a Blacksmith’s hammer. Everyone was in awe.

“Then…you have the plans?” asked Megatron.

“And I brought materials to reforge the Three Powers twice over!” declared Optimus.

“Twice?” asked Sonic.

“Rodimus, Galvatron, and Silver need the Three Powers to beat their timeline’s Unicron. Now, because the Matrix is connected to ALL the Primes, that means only I can use them. However, Solus Prime and I are designing a workaround for that. Once that’s done, we train and prepare for the Unicron Games! Now, if you’ll excuse me, Teletraan 1, bridge me to Castle Unicron! I wish to announce my participation in person!”

“All right but be careful!” warned Teletraan 1. A Ground Bridge opened, and Optimus stepped through. The Bridge closed behind him.

“Good luck, Prime!” wished Blackarachnia. Bumblebee then looked around.

“Well, Optimus can’t exactly call a messy base home, can he?” he asked. “Let’s get this mess cleared up and make the necessary repairs!” Everyone cheered and Bumblebee immediately began detailing clean-up crews.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 4: Trials of Light and Dark)

3 Realms 4-23

An hour passed and Boltuk led the team to an elaborate room, spacious and decorated with murals about Manticore victories. The light of the torches gave a rather spooky atmosphere. At the end of the room was a set of chairs with a Manticore sitting in each one. One was male and the other was female. Boltuk bowed. “My King and Queen,” he greeted, “these outsiders have passed the first five trials and wish to challenge you in the last one.”

“Do they, now?” asked the Manticore King. Arsha came forward.

“Your Majesties, I am Arsha Royana. I urge you, release the Sphinxes! Forsake Oyed!”

“Your demands are steep, Madam Royana,” remarked the Manticore Queen. “The fate of the Sphinxes now rests with you and your friends.”

“Tell me, what can you determine of the mural behind us?” asked the Manticore King. Arsha observed a picture of a Sphinx inside a bubble, both in green.

“…The barrier?” asked Arsha.

“The same,” answered the King. “Boltuk, make your way to the stands.” Boltuk bowed and left the throne room as a crowd gathered. The King then puffed his chest out. “I am King Velkor Blacktail!” he roared. His wife then did the same as he did.

“I am Queen Altun Blacktail!” she called.

“These outsiders have passed the first five trials!” announced Velkor.

“Now, the last trial awaits them!” roared Altun. “The Royal Trial!” Two pedestals then rose from the floor in front of the King and Queen. Each pedestal had a red diamond resting on it.

“Before us are keys!” explained Velkor. “One of them will lower the barrier and the Sphinxes will no longer be under our thrall!”

“The other will kill them!” continued Altun. “By asking us three questions, the outsiders must determine which key will free the Sphinxes!”

“Hold on!” called Arsha. “There’s no reason to bring them into this! You can’t have us play with their lives like that!”

“If you wish to have us as allies, you will have to complete this trial!” answered Velkor. “If you pick the wrong key, then we will consider you murderers!”

“And know this,” warned Altun, “one of us tells the truth and one of us lies.” Arsha was now panicking! Lives were now at stake!

“Arsha, the danger is not so great,” called Orthena. “I will complete this trial.”

“Orthena, I can’t risk anyone having that kind of blood on their hands!”

“Arsha, trust me! I know how the riddle works. You said so yourself one time, the truth-liar riddle isn’t your forte.” Arsha considered her next actions.

“…Very well. Orthena, be careful.” Orthena then stepped forward.

“Your Majesties,” she called to the Manticore Royals, “you said I need to ask three questions? You’re being too generous! I can solve your riddle with one question only!”

“A bold claim,” remarked Velkor.

“I must insist that you limit me to one question.”

“…Very well. One question for only one of us.”

“Thank you.” Orthena turned to Altun. “Your Majesty, if you were your King, which key would you say is the one that will lower the barrier safely?”

“…The key in front of my husband,” answered Altun.

“In that case, I choose the key in front of YOU!”

“…Are you sure?”

“Beyond the shadow of a doubt.”

“Then place the key in the mural behind us.” Orthena took the key in front of Altun and placed it into a slot below the Sphinx. They then waited a few seconds. Once they waited long enough, the bubble glowed red, and the Sphinx glowed green. Velkor and Altun then smiled.

“Very clever,” praised Velkor.

Over near the Regatim Oasis, Merrim was talking to Tursu, the Sphinxes’ Queen. As they spoke, a red line appeared between them, then vanished. Tursu blinked, then stepped into the area. She went further and further, then realized that her people were saved! “EVERYONE! WE’RE FREE! ARSHA DID IT!” she called to her people! The Sphinxes entered the Oasis and were greeted warmly by the Nagas.

“I told you Arsha became a miracle worker!” chuckled Merrim.

“Then she convinced the Manticores to see sense! Queen Merrim, you have allies in the north and west of the Caltem River!”

Arsha received a call from Aldarval. They had ceased the bombardment once they received news of the Sphinxes being freed. After ending the call on a high note, Arsha turned to Orthena. “Lieutenant Orthena Strongaxe, you’re a genius! How did you know she was lying?”

“I didn’t. I still don’t know who the liar is,” explained Orthena.

“…But…but she tried to tell you that the other key was the one.”

“Your Majesties, do you wish to explain, or shall I?” Orthena asked Velkor and Altun.

“You passed the last trial. It’s your right to explain, not ours,” answered Velkor. Orthena then grinned as she turned back to Arsha.

“I asked Altun what she would say if she were Velkor,” she began. “If she lied to me, then that would make him the truth-teller. She would lie about what he would say, so I could pick the opposite of what she said.”

“What if he were the liar?” asked Arsha.

“Then she would tell the truth about what his lie would be, so I would STILL pick the opposite. Understand?”

“…Not quite.”

“It takes practice.”

“Arsha,” called Velkor, “you and your team have proven that you are more trustworthy than Oyed and his cronies. We wish to join you so we may make amends for what we have done to the Sphinxes.”

“You should have killed those ineffective idiots!” shouted another voice. Oyed then appeared in a cloud of black mist, along with Dr. Borg.

“The Manticores no longer bow to you!” shouted Velkor.

“If you had any sense, you would!” answered Oyed. “You know, I just recalled a funny story on the way here! It goes like this; a Titan makes a deal with someone, that someone fails his end of the bargain, has the courage to admit it and accept losing his soul, only for that someone to fade in a flurry of maho-particles, then the son of that someone detects that the avatar was cast by his King! Where’s the real Toonsar?!”

“Dead! I won’t have anyone pull my strings!”

“Then this is your execution!” Oyed and Dr. Borg charged at the Manticore Royalty, only for Arsha and her team to get in the way.

“We defend them at all costs!” ordered Arsha. The team rushed at the two villains with Arsha, Malnar, Lardeth, Bashoon, and Delselii attacking Oyed while Falnii, Foresna, Gorfanth, and Patrica fought Dr. Borg. Velkor joined in fighting Oyed and Altun fought joined the fight against Dr. Borg. Velkor swung his tail forward, intent on stinging Oyed, but the Titan grabbed the tail.

“Nice try!” he snarled before slamming his fist into Velkor’s face. Arsha then decked him, making him spit out blood. “I don’t know how you’re able to do that, child, but it doesn’t matter! Your parents will die! Your lovers will die! YOU will die!”

“Sorry, not letting myself die until I hit 50,000!” hissed Arsha.

“YOU HAVE NO SAY IN THE MATTER!” Oyed then fired a stream of caustic mist at her. Arsha then used a fire spell to evaporate it and a water spell to neutralize the burning. It was then that she opened her eyes…only they weren’t their usual golden self. They were red like Mordek’s, even down to the lack of pupils! A red aura then surrounded Arsha, and she grabbed Oyed by the neck, then took him for a ride straight through the ceiling and into the open air! Oyed wiggled out of her grip and shoved her away. They then stopped and floated in the air. As Oyed caught his breath, a grin crossed his face. “So, that’s how you’re able to damage me,” he purred. “A Candidate’s Aura surrounds you!” Arsha then looked crestfallen.

“I can’t begin to tell you how it hurts,” she muttered, “to hear that I’m a potential Champion.”


“That kind of power would elevate me too high! If I DO become your children’s Champion, I’d be hailed as a living god! People would look to me to solve EVERY problem and overlook my friends, lovers, and family!”

“So, you wish you never had a Candidate’s Aura? Then power down and serve me. I promise, I can remove it for you with no pain.”

“…Honestly, I’d rather die than serve a pasty white guy like you!”

“THAT CAN BE ARRANGED!” Oyed then charged up an energy attack. Arsha charged her own and they fired, engaging in a beam-clash. The resulting ball of mixed energies was moving between the two combatants. “JUST GIVE UP!” roared Oyed. “I AM OYED, THE TITAN! I WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! MY CHILDREN WILL FALL! YOU EXIST ONLY TO SERVE ME, JUST AS YOUR ANCESTORS SERVED OTHERS LONG AGO!”

“…NOT…AS LONG…AS I…AM ARSHA ROYANA!” Arsha then poured more energy into her attack as she screamed her defiance at Oyed’s intentions. The energy ball then travelled back towards him and struck him hard! He fell to the ground, smoking and injured, but alive. He picked himself up as Arsha floated down to the ground. Dr. Borg managed to escape through the hole Arsha and Oyed made during their fight and approached her master.

“My Lord,” she panted, “the Manticores are overwhelming our operatives! The Sphinxes have crossed the Caltem River with a Naga company from the Oasis! We’re surrounded! We must retreat!”

“…Have our forces fall back to our Falchineve base,” ordered Oyed. “This time, let them find us.”

“…My Lord, why?!”

“Because I have an idea. Even if we lose the Gorgons and Gryphons, we’ll still cause a lot of damage in the long run.”

“…Very well.” Dr. Borg called all of their forces and ordered them to retreat to the Over-realm and let Realmfleet find them. Multiple small Realmgates opened, and the Realm Trinity Empire evacuated the Mid-realm.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 4: Trials of Light and Dark)

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The team arrived in a new arena. Boltuk was actually feeling rather hopeful. During the trials, he was actually turning towards Realmfleet. He wasn’t sure they could convince the King, but they convinced a few Manticores at least. Arsha saw this. “You know, you COULD help us,” she offered.

“…Disobeying the King like that is a capital offense punishable by a most dishonorable death,” answered Boltuk. “My paws are tied.”

“…I’m sorry to hear that. You’re a good sort, I can tell.” Boltuk gave a sad smile before he took his place in the center of the arena. The crowd then gathered in the stands.

“These outsiders have passed one of the Trials of Intelligence by showing that proofs can be abused!” he called. “That is four trials under their belt. Only two more remain! How well can these outsiders find a pattern?! …Lady Andotal! Come forth!” A female Manticore strode out and waved as the crowd cheered.

“An interesting pun, Mr. Bloodwing,” she chuckled. “I am the fourth and you tell me to come forth.”

“…An unintentional pun, I assure you,” groaned Boltuk. He then turned back to the crowd. “Lady Andotal will write five numbers and the challenger must find a pattern within a minute! If they write out five more numbers that fall within the pattern, they win. If they fail to write the correct answer or they fail to come up with any answer within a minute’s time, well, I think we all can guess what that means!”

“All right, Delselii, Patrica, Foresna, it’s the four of us. Who’s the best at finding a pattern?” Arsha asked her team.

“Let me try my hand at it,” offered Patrica. “I’ve been able to find patterns in the past.”

“Then good luck.” Patrica then entered the ring.

“I, Patrica Looden, will accept the challenge!” she called.

“Very well!” replied Boltuk. “The instant Andotal finishes her last number, your time begins!” Andotal then used her tail to write five numbers in the sand. The numbers were 610, 987, 1,597, 2,584, and 4,181. “BEGIN!” called Boltuk. Patrica was a little surprised that the numbers were so large. Ten seconds passed and there was still no answer from her. Arsha gulped.

“I…was NOT expecting that,” she muttered.

“This is bad! There ISN’T a pattern!” groaned Bashoon.

“Actually, there is,” replied Orthena. “It all depends on if she remembers her math classes.”

“…Oh, I see it now!” realized Delselii.

“You do?” asked Arsha.

“Half a minute remains!” called Boltuk.

“Wait, really?!” protested Patrica. “I think you just added…added…added…just a minute!” She then started tracing out the first two numbers in another part of the sand. After that, she included an addition sign. She then saw that 610 and 987 equaled 1,597. She then added 987 to 1,597 and got 2,584. She then snapped her fingers. “A Loquntho sequence!” she cheered. “I know what the remaining five are!”

“Then write them,” declared Boltuk. “The clock has stopped for now.” Patrica then added new numbers to the original sequence. They were 6,765, 10,946, 17,711, 28,657, and 46,368. Lady Andotal then looked at the answer and how Patrica got her answer. She raised her eyeridges in approval.

“I never thought my ancestor’s number sequence would survive into your time,” she mused. She then turned to Boltuk. “She’s got the correct numbers!”

“And that makes five trials for the outsiders!” called Boltuk to the crowd. “The last trial will be prepared in an hour as it involves our King and Queen. Rest and prepare, for you need to have a flexible mind to face them.” The crowd departed and Boltuk gave one last look at Arsha and her team. “…I beg you, don’t take the last trial. If you fail it, we’re all slaves to Oyed and the Sphinxes will forever be in our thrall.”

“It’s because of the plight of the Sphinxes that we’re not turning back now,” replied Arsha. “I believe my team has demonstrated that they’re more than capable of passing anything you throw at us. I could only feel pride as they passed their trials and found the entrance to your kingdom. I won’t spit on their efforts now.”

“…No outsider has ever passed the Trial of the King and Queen. I urge you to reconsider.” Boltuk left and Arsha sighed.

“You have to admit, it IS a change from when we first met him,” remarked Lardeth.

“Still, I really hope he sees sense,” sighed Arsha.

“That’s the problem, here,” replied Falnii. “In accordance with his own culture, he DOES see sense and we don’t. Different cultures have different definitions of seeing sense. You’ve seen it yourself. I’m willing to bet your own parents have their own culture clashes, despite being on the same general page on certain things.”

“And it’s not just different species,” remarked Malnar. “Over-realm and Mid-realm Humans have different cultures. Even then, those pockets of humans have even further divisions. Rich and poor, smart and ignorant, which Divine One is the better one to worship, but it’s NOT inherently evil. It looks to me like the Manticores WANT to be more diverse, but they need a change from the top. Hopefully, we can bring that change. You saw it in Boltuk’s eyes.”

“…Well then, looks like we have a trial to pass!” declared Arsha.

“Atta girl!” cheered Malnar.

“Where is he?!” grunted one of the Manticore Revenants.

“It’s almost the end of the day and I don’t see 35 people before me,” replied Oyed. “Your father isn’t attempting to renege on the deal and get away with it, is he?”

“It’s well within his standard M.O.” The door then opened to let Lord Toonsar into the room.

“Ah, there you are,” purred Oyed. “How kind of you to join us. …Where are the people you promised?”

“…I regret to inform you,” replied the elderly Manticore, “that I couldn’t get enough in time.”

“Then your soul is forfeit. Farewell.” Oyed drew a circle in the air and…Toonsar smirked.

“Ta!” The circle then surrounded Toonsar and both it AND he exploded in white light.

“Wh-what?!” spluttered Oyed.

“That shouldn’t have happened?” asked the Revenant Manticore.

“No! It…a Maho-particle avatar! Someone tricked me!” Oyed was frothing at the mouth. The Manticore sniffed the air.

“It smells like…like…like something Velkor wove! The King’s behind this!”

“Your people’s loyalty is no longer certain! Get a team for me that will get me past the trials! Make sure they know a path to get me there before Arsha or there’ll be the Depths to pay!”

“Before Arsha, my Lord?”

“Arsha surrounds herself with people who are not only strong, but clever as well! They may very well pass the trials!”

“I understand, My Lord.” The Manticore headed off and Oyed looked out the window.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 4: Trials of Light and Dark)

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Boltuk led the team through what would have been the third arena. The place looked more ornate than the previous one. “Man, I would have enjoyed this!” moaned Bashoon.

“It’s one of our favorite arenas,” replied Boltuk. He then led them to a new arena where a whiteboard stood in the center of the ring. The crowd filed in and Boltuk began his announcement. “These outsiders,” he called, “have passed the Trials of Strength! But brawn is nothing without a brain to back it up! Outsiders, you had best be able to prove your intelligence, for we do not love idiots! The first trial shall determine whether or not you have the ability to abuse proofs! If you can stump one of our smartest with something ridiculous and prove that it is possible with no loopholes, you win! If your opponent finds a loophole, you lose! Who shall go?!”

“Arsha, let me in on this!” giggled Malnar. “I’ll give you a year’s supply of chocolate if you do!”

“What? Why?” asked Arsha. Malnar then whispered her plan into Arsha’s ear. “…There is no way that will work!”

“Come on, Foxy! For me?” Malnar then gave her lover puppy-dog eyes.

“No! Stop that! You know I hate it when any of you do that! …Fine! Go ahead!” Malnar kissed Arsha on the cheek then practically skipped into the ring.

“It looks like you have set your challenger on us,” remarked Boltuk. “Very well! Lord Tanatar! You are needed!” An elderly Manticore man then came forward. He had a limp, but he was cheered to the echo as if he were a great gladiator. He raised his hurt paw as the crowd cheered, then he pointed to a section and lowered his paw. The section then quietly cheered. He then raised his paw, and the cheering grew louder. Then he put his paw to the floor and the cheering stopped.

“…Dang,” remarked Malnar to her opponent as he approached the whiteboard. “Sounds like men of intellect are REALLY prized here.”

“We DO uncover secrets that prove useful to fighters,” answered Lord Tanatar. “Now, what do you wish to prove?”

“Well, first off, I need to set the scene. Tell me, do you have grandchildren?”

“Seven of them, and I spoil them all rotten. Why?”

“That makes it a lot easier. So, do you see yourself as someone who spoils them equally?”

“Of course. But, I must be fair. Let’s say, for example, that there’s candy, about…give me a number.”


“Then I would give each one of them four pieces of candy.”

“I thought you said you spoil them rotten.” Lord Tanatar was confused.

“I do.”

“Only four?” Malnar clicked her lips in disappointment. “My Lord, you’re cheating them. Twenty-eight pieces of candy for seven grandkids? They deserve thirteen apiece.” Lord Tanatar goggled at Malnar.

“What in the name of the King are you talking about?!” he protested. “Seven by thirteen does NOT make twenty-eight!”

“Yes, it does!”

“Seven by FOUR makes twenty-eight!” Malnar sighed.

“Lord Tanatar, seven by THIRTEEN makes twenty-eight!”

“Seven by FOUR is twenty-eight! Aren’t you a soldier?!”

“Yes, but I’m also a Princess.”

“…What are they teaching royalty these days?” muttered Lord Tanatar.

“I can show you my work, if you wish.”

“Please, show us.” Malnar took up one of the markers and set up a long-division problem. She set it up like so:


“Now, seven into two?” asked Malnar. Lord Tanatar shook his head. “Seven will NOT go into two. No matter how much you push that big seven into that little two, it won’t fit! That’s gonna hurt the poor little two! So, I’m gonna put the two down here!” She drew a little two at the bottom of the white board. “Now, seven into eight?”

“It goes in once,” replied Lord Tanatar.

“Exactly!” Malnar drew a one at the eight’s right.

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“Now, I’m gonna carry the seven. It’s a big seven, so we need to distribute it right.” She wrote a seven under the eight. “Now, eight minus seven?”

“One.” Malnar then wrote out the next step and answer.

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“Now, this is where the magic happens!” called Malnar. “A minute ago, we had a little discussion about a little two.” She then pointed to the little two at the board’s bottom. “This little two! You mind if I use it?”

“Go ahead,” sighed Lord Tanatar.

“Much appreciated! So, I’m gonna put the two by the one below the carried seven.” She then wrote her new two.

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“Now, seven into twenty-one?”

“Three.” Malnar wrote the resulting three at the left of the one at the top!

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“There we go! Seven goes into twenty-eight THIRTEEN times!”

“NO! NO! NO! Nothing of the kind!” Lord Tanatar then erased the board. “There’s something you’re missing! Tell you what, we’ll multiply all this!”

“All right.” Malnar then wrote out a long multiplication problem.



“All right, seven times three?”





“Seven times one?”






“Seven plus one?”

“…Eight…” Lord Tanatar then saw where she placed the seven.






“And we carry the two!”






“There we go! Twenty-eight!”

“NO! NO! That’s not it!” Lord Tanatar erased the board again. “All right, that’s it! There’s only one surefire way to find a loophole here! Put down thirteen seven times!”

“Oh, I get it, you want me to add it.”

“Bingo! Go on!” So, Malnar wrote down 13 seven times.








“All right, now we start…!”

“Hold it!” Lord Tanatar leveled his stinger at her. “I’LL start it!” His stinger then went up the threes. “Three! Six! Nine! Twelve! Fifteen! Eighteen! Twenty-one!” Malnar then ran her marker down the ones.

“Twenty-two! Twenty-three! Twenty-four! Twenty-five! Twenty-six! Twenty-seven! Twenty-eight!”









Lord Tanatar goggled at the whole thing. “…I…I-I…I can’t…I don’t see any loopholes! She’s abused proofs!” He collapsed to the floor in shame.

“By Lord Tanatar’s declaration,” called Boltuk, “the outsider has won the first Trial of Intellect! Now, outsider, since you’re the winner, you may point out any loopholes he missed with no penalty.”

“Thank you.” Malnar then turned to Lord Tanatar. “My Lord, there WAS a loophole that I didn’t have a counter for.”

“What’s that?” he mumbled.

“The tens place.”

“…The tens place! Of course! …I will have to learn more, even if my King forbids it.”

“Come with me, and we shall proceed to the next trial!” called Boltuk. The crowd roared as Arsha and her team were led to the next challenge.