Built during the Savage Age, the Realmgates have become the backbone of trade and travel between Realms. Each Realm has two Realmgates, one connecting to another in a different Realm. The metal’s color and writing characters tell a person where the Realmgate is located and the color of the vortex tells one which Realm is on the other side, if the single letter on top does not clue a person in for some odd reason. The blue Realmgates are Over-realm based ones with the green vortex set to the Mid-realm and the red one set to the Under-realm. The green Realmgates are Mid-realm based ones with the blue vortex set to the Over-realm and the red one set to the Under-realm. Last, but not least, the red Realmgates are Under-realm based ones with the blue vortex set to the Over-realm and the green one sed to the Mid-realm. If anything were to happen to them, like, say, some mad scientist blows them up, trade would be stop and travel would grind to a halt, so defending the Realmgates is very important to Realmfleet.
“Captain, Dr. Borg’s accepting the call,” reported Shalvey on the Endeavor.
“Hardly surprising,” replied Arsha. “On screen.”
“It’s audio only, Captain. We’ll only get her voice.”
“Put it through.”
“Hello, Your Highness,” greeted Dr. Borg’s voice. “You wanted us to parlay with you as you besiege our current base of operations.”
“Doctor, you wouldn’t have raised defenses or scrambled your people if you didn’t know what I have,” said Arsha.
“Do you even know how to use it?”
“I got the instructions from Mordek. He found Oyed’s notes on its creation and operation.”
“Arsha, let me ask you something, why do you oppose me?”
“You’re asking me the same question Oyed asked of himself.”
“Well, like he once did, I don’t understand. I’ve only wished the best for the Realms. I only want to help you.”
“You destroyed too many lives!”
“They were diseased. Oyed and the Divine Ones gave me the opportunity to eliminate it. I am nothing but grateful for that. Why do you oppose the Realm Trinity Empire?”
“Because I don’t like how you used and lied to innocent people to-!”
“I haven’t lied to them. Our goals are the same as yours, to eliminate discord.”
“Then why didn’t you kill Oyed the instant he was drained?! Why did you leave him and the Divine Ones to die in Frigandor?!” Arsha’s question was met with silence. “…Don’t wanna answer that, do you? You see, I finally understood the rules of the Final War when I got the schematics of that draining machine of yours and saw your discarded battle plans for multiple fronts. You’ve had multiple chances to kill Oyed all along! …So why didn’t you just stick a knife in his back and be done with it?!”
“You don’t understand.”
“Oh, but I DO understand! And THAT’S what’s got you worried, isn’t it? Ernsem always says that understanding is a sword, the two sides of an argument make up the cutting edges of the sword, but a masterful swordsman remembers the truth that makes up the hilt, cross-guard and all! And the truth is, we don’t need gods anymore! That’s why you’re trying to ascend to godhood! That’s why you’ve left Oyed and the Divine Ones to die once they were drained! You didn’t want to kill the messenger, you just wanted to kill the message that the Realms grew up to no longer need gods! You want us all to believe that there must be at least ONE god to control the Realms! The whole Borg family is obsessed with control! You want to make it harder for the message to get to us, to guarantee that we do things your way! Well, let me tell you, you’re making the same mistake Oyed made with his goals of eternal chaos.”
“I beg your pardon?!” Dr. Borg finally snarled.
“You heard me!” replied Arsha. “You’re just like him! You’re trying to force us to decide which of you is right, since you both believed that the Divine Ones are wrong! You’re like parents arguing in front of their kid; manipulating them and trying to get them to take sides! Not for their benefit, but for YOURS! …But what if the right choice is not to choose at all?”
“You already made a choice when the archers killed Oyed at your suggestion,” remarked Dr. Borg. “You’ve already chosen a side. You’ve proven that there is only order and obedience. You will do as you’re told. You will die for the Realm Trinity Empire when the Council and I tell you to die for the Realm Trinity Empire because those that worship chaos know no other way.”
“That’s where you’re wrong!”
“In that case, you won’t survive to witness the ascension.” Dr. Borg then closed the channel.
“Shalvey, open a channel to all ships,” ordered Arsha. “Fire at will!”
“Fleet’s acknowledged and charging weapons,” replied Shalvey.
“They’re charging weapons!” called a robot to Dr. Borg.
“All vessels, decloak and fire!” ordered Dr. Borg.
Imperial vessels shimmered into view as they flew towards the fleet. The roar of weapons-grade magic blasts choked out any other sound for those on the ground. Both sides deployed flight-capable species, drone fighters, and broom riders. As the battle roared, Jansha keyed in one final command on a console. She then called Dr. Borg. “The machine’s ready! We gotta get to the roof NOW!”
“Councilors, this is it!” Dr. Borg called. “To the roof!” Jansha pressed a button, and the machine fired a beam into the sky. The sky then turned black as a reddish sphere appeared. The Divine Tower then started glowing.
“Captain!” called Malak. “The Tower!”
“Guys, this is it!” Arsha called on a comms channel to her lovers. “Let’s do it!” She then vanished in a teleport spell.
Arsha and her lovers appeared at the base of the Tower. “SECURITY BREACH!” called a Centaur Revenant. Arsha and Gorfanth fired offense spells as Falnii and Foresna cast shields. Equipment and the largest mana container then appeared and Malnar and Lardeth got to work, attaching it to the Tower, though not without arguments.
“This one goes HERE, that one goes THERE!” Lardeth snarled.
“I was trying to save time here!” snapped Malnar. “I didn’t think you’d be such a stickler for procedure during a battle!”
“I thought you were an ‘Engineering Queen’!”
“I AM, which is why I’m doing what I’m doing!”
“Guys, we’re on the clock here!” shouted Arsha. “Save it!”
“How long have we got, anyways?!” asked Foresna.
“We’re almost there!” replied Lardeth. He and Malnar continued working.
“Artificial lunar eclipse within three minutes,” reported Jansha.
“Just three minutes until we reach godhood,” sighed Dr. Borg. She then looked out to the battlefield. “…You know, in some strange way, I think I’m gonna miss mortality.”
“I think we all will, Doctor,” remarked Femfaf. “But I can think of no better people to go on this evolutionary journey with than you guys.”
“I never really said this,” muttered Yamta, “but…you’re the only people I can call friends. It’s nice that I’m gonna be with friends forever.”
“Friends are very valuable,” agreed Tormo, “and you lot are the most valuable people a Goblin can have.”
“I’m certainly eager to be the first machine-based goddess,” chuckled Jansha.
“Doc, you gave me a second chance at life,” said Yulduk as he drank a bit of mana. “I can’t thank you enough for that.”
“It was nice being mortal,” mused Tensam, “but it’s time to evolve and bring some order to the Realms.”
“I hear ya,” agreed Shefarn. “At least we got to see the Splitters and Oyed fall.”
“Now, it’s time for the last leg of our journey,” sighed Remsu. “Cytanek, we’re all ready.” Dr. Borg looked at her Councilors, then wiped her eyes. “Hey! Cy! Are you-?!”
“I’m fine!” sniffed Dr. Borg as she smiled through her tears. “It’s just…you’re the best people I’ve ever known!” She sniffled, then wiped her eyes again. She breathed and smiled. “Let’s do this!”
The Divine Tower was built like an old Wizard’s tower, complete with a balcony overlooking the south and a roof one could walk on. Right now, Dr. Borg and her Council were sitting in a study, sans Yamta. “…I wonder how she’s getting on?” mused Tormo.
“She’s been gone for a while now,” remarked Remsu as she laid her head on Shefarn’s tail, letting him stroke her hair. Dr. Borg looked up at the ceiling.
“Well, I hope she’s having fun with that present I gave her,” she said as she indicated to Tensam that she wanted one of his tentacles around her waist. As he coiled her waist, she continued. “The man DID upend one too many of her operations and-”
“Damn Rokalla!” snapped Yamta’s voice as she stormed into the room with her hands soaked in black Orc blood. “Damn him and damn his silence a hundred times!”
“Is everything all right?” asked Tensam.
“No, everything is NOT all right!” replied Yamta. “He refuses to bow; he refuses to drink! Did you know that we assigned him one of the best pain technicians?”
“‘Pain technicians’?” asked Femfaf. “Is that what we’re calling torturers now?”
“I hope not!” shuddered Yulduk. “That sounds WAY too pretentious!”
“The guy considers himself an artist,” explained Yamta. “You know how they are with self-aggrandizing titles for their profession.” Yulduk sighed in relief as Yamta continued her rant. “One of our very BEST torturers! I felt certain Rokalla would break under his ministrations! The guy worked for two hours, not a sound! I told him, ‘Give me a cry, Rosanzi! A shout, a whimper, a scream, anything!’ All he could get was silence, so I got into it myself! You know the old saying; ‘If you want something done right, do it yourself’. Well, that was the idea, anyways, but you can see for yourself how well THAT went. If I didn’t know better, I’d say Rokalla was a mute! Silence, that’s all he gave me!” Yamta washed her hands in a basin of water. “I’m beginning to see your annoyance with him, Doctor. How you put up with him this long escapes me.”
“I had other duties to temporarily distract me from that annoyance,” replied Dr. Borg.
“What’s next for Rokalla?” asked Shefarn.
“Well, towards the end,” said Yamta as she took a cloth and dried her hands, “I thought to myself, or maybe I said it aloud, it WAS just me and him for a while, ‘Let’s hack all his limbs off! Maybe THAT will get a reaction.”
“So, he’s limbless?” asked Tormo.
“No, he passed out after he lost both his legs,” muttered Yamta in annoyance. “Blood loss and shock, I guess.”
“Well, that’s inconvenient,” sympathized Scorpo.
“I’ll get back to it when he’s conscious,” remarked Yamta, “and THIS time, if he remains silent, I mean, silence! SILENCE! Where’s the fun in that, I ask you all?! He’s so insubordinate. We can’t have him, of all Orcs, challenging our authority like that! I know you made a present of him to me, Doctor, but if I don’t get my scream, he’ll have to be killed. I hope you understand.”
“Completely, Yamta,” assured Dr. Borg. “He’ll make a fine example of our authority.” She then got up, letting Tensam’s tentacle fall, and took the basin. She then poured the contents onto a pot of flowers. “They need extra nutrients,” she said. “Life and death in perfect order, that’s our goal.” Just then, an Orc Revenant woman stumbled in, looking very terrified and hopeless. “Ms. Trulmar, are you okay?” asked Dr. Borg.
“No, Doctor, I’m not,” replied the Revenant. “I just got a frightening intelligence report. Realmfleet has just made a very…disturbing advance against us.”
“How so?” asked Tensam as he and Shefarn entered their water chairs. Trulmar’s speech was halted in a few places as she struggled to get the words out.
“One of our spies…saw Arsha and Oyed enter the Crypt of Crelima the Mad…and come back out…with a jewel in her hand. …After that, archers killed Oyed…and a massive fleet of enemy ships…set a course for our position.” The Council easily guessed what the jewel was and hoped against hope they were wrong.
“No!” pleaded Dr. Borg.
“I’m…afraid so. The spy went into the Crypt…and saw that the Talkwen Stone was…missing from the Crown. …The last thing the spy could ever report…and, in a way…I’m glad it’s over. …I think I’ll stay here and read. …The fleet should be arriving any time now. …I imagine the end will be…quite violent.”
“NO!” shouted Dr. Borg as she and her Council dashed towards the southern balcony. They looked out at the horizon and saw several shapes getting larger. Dr. Borg activated a telescopic function in her eye and got a good look at the shape leading the others. It was the Endeavor! Fury gripped Dr. Borg’s mind and heart as she activated the comms. “BATTLE STATIONS!” she commanded. “RED ALERT! ARM ALL WEAPONS!”
“Cy, we’re outnumbered and outgunned!” protested Tensam.
“I don’t care!” snapped Dr. Borg. “We still have the means to make our own lunar eclipse!”
“I’ll have the eclipse generator set for a lunar eclipse right now!” called Jansha. She dashed off to get the machine online. Dr. Borg glared out to the south again as the fleet approached.
“Arsha Royana will NOT foul the ritual!” she declared. “We WILL ascend, but NOT in Oyed’s name! All life will fight in OUR name! A legion that will rival any army ever made, and the enemy will hear them will come, for they will chant our name! WE! ARE! GODS!” She then laughed like a lunatic. A flying robot then arrived on the balcony.
“Dr. Borg,” it reported, “the Endeavor is hailing us. They wish to offer us the chance of parlay.” Dr. Borg then steadied her breathing and calmed down.
“They want us to parlay with them?” she asked. “I won’t parlay with anyone who would besiege us while we do the right thing! Open a channel and forward it directly to my comms!”
Arsha and Oyed proceeded past the remaining three traps. One was poison gas which could be avoided by shooting the correct target, the next was the flame jets which was dealt with by walking on a concealed bridge, and the last was a spiked ceiling that lowered as they navigated a maze. Arsha nearly lost her helmet but got it back before the ceiling made full contact with the floor. They arrived at the central chamber where the midday sun gleamed through a window onto the floor where a pile of ash was. In that ash pile was a jagged, black crown with a single jewel in the center of it. Arsha looked to Oyed. “…What?” asked the former Titan.
“Any traps on the crown?” asked Arsha.
“He saw no need for any.” Arsha still gingerly picked up the crown, then regained her courage when it was confirmed that Oyed told the truth. She ripped the jewel out of the crown, then looked to the ash pile.
“Sorry, Your Majesty,” she said, “but the Realms need the Talkwen Stone right now.” She then looked to Oyed. “So, that’s all the traps?”
“That’s all the traps. The way back is clear.” Arsha and Oyed then headed back the way they came and returned to the sunlight. Arsha was met with the Hanthuus hugging her. Oyed simply rolled his eyes, then cleared his throat.
“Fine, a deal’s a deal,” she muttered. She pulled a phial of the antidote out of her armor’s carrying bag and Oyed goggled.
“You had the antidote with you the entire time?!” he snarled. “Why didn’t you tell me?!”
“Yeah, tell the poisoned ex-Titan who is SO known for not being opportunistic that I had the antidote,” snarked Arsha. “He’d NEVER leave me behind if he knew where the antidote was.” She handed him the phial. “Now, remember that the remains of your drink smoked when I added the antidote to it before finishing it?”
“What about it?” asked Oyed as he took the cork out of the phial.
“The smoke’s a gas. You’ll be burping and farting a lot.”
“I’d rather be gassy than dead.” Oyed guzzled the antidote, then his burps came out in five second intervals. They were rather tiny ones too. “Oh, come on!” he groaned. “How long’s this supposed to last?!”
“A full fifty hours,” replied Arsha. “But you won’t live that long.”
“Archers may nock!” called Lartin.
“What archers?!” demanded Oyed.
“Archers may draw!” ordered Lartin as she, her spouses, and everyone else pulled back. Archers of various species with various types of bows and crossbows then popped up from the rooftops, aiming their arrows at Oyed. Oyed then realized what was going on.
“You wouldn’t!” he snarled at Arsha. Arsha stepped forward.
“I would,” she said. “Through Yamta killing Calandra’s mother, you have taken that which we loved, the peace we enjoyed. You have also taken personally taken the life of the Coliamdii Kingdom’s Prime Minister, a good and dear friend to Queen Elmpam. You have erased Rellmeer’s husband from the face of the Realms! YOU HAVE KILLED MY COUSIN, TENDRAK!” Arsha then steadied her breathing. “…You have set us all against one another through Dr. Borg’s thrice-damned empire, weakening our people by your constant warfare! There might be a few Orcs who don’t care about that, but I think every single one of them, even the Orcs among the archers, care about how you ordered Intrag to create them by corrupting various Elves. Yes, I think they care about that a great deal. Malnar and Orbak gave their Prime Minister documents that proved that you took the most warlike of Under-realm Elves and tortured them, that YOU are responsible for giving Intrag shock-troopers that constructed death camps and genetic cleansing programs! You are responsible for their early, savage, and unkempt behaviors, and I think the Orcs would like to thank you personally for your efforts.”
“You can’t believe that!” he called to the Archers. “She’s lying!”
“Is she?!” called one of the archers. It was Moggle! “I’ve examined the documents! They are true! I think that’s more than sufficient inducement for a politician like me to actually get my hands dirty, don’t you think?” His fellows agreed with him.
“Oyed, it’s not enough for us to simply kill you,” continued Arsha. “I could have simply destroyed the antidote and let you die. But, through your death at the hands of those you foolishly think less of, you won’t get the satisfaction of dying at the hands of those you think is more powerful!”
“…NO! YOU HAVE TO GET YOUR HANDS BLOODY TO SEE ME DEAD! YOU SIGNED A BLOOD CONTRACT, DIDN’T YOU?!” shouted Oyed.
“That contract said that we wouldn’t rest until the Realm Trinity Empire is broken, it said nothing about us personally killing you. You will die alone. Goodbye, Oyed the Destroyer!” She then vanished from sight.
“ARCHERS MAY LOOSE!” shouted Lartin. Oyed ran as the arrows rained down on him. He was constantly blocked off by arrows landing in front of him, then an arrow pierced his shoulder, the pain halting him and forcing him to cry out. More arrows then struck him. He finally fell, supported by the arrows still embedded in him. Oyed, the former Titan, was now dead. “Cease fire!” called Lartin. The arrows stopped flying. She then gave a wry grin. “Archers may retrieve their arrows!”
Arsha had teleported to her ready room and saw the whole thing. Once the archers left their posts to get their arrows back, she switched the screen off and imagined a piano playing. She then started singing Zephyr gospel.
“No hidin’ place ‘round here! (‘Round here!)
There’s no hidin’ place ‘round here! (No hidin’ place!)
Y’know, I went to the wall to hide my face!
But the wall cried out ‘No hidin’ place!
There’s no hidin’ place ‘round here!’” Her door chime then rang. “Come in.” Denstra came in.
“Captain, intelligence reports an enemy build-up in the deserts north of here! Aldarval’s given the go-ahead for the entire fleet to attack at your command!”
“A chance like this doesn’t come but once in a life-time, Commander!” She hailed the fleet. “All ships, converge on the enemy’s position! This is our chance to end this!”
Oyed finally conceded, if only to save his hide. The Endeavor made its way to Crelima City, the Queens having already given permission for Arsha and Oyed to enter the Crypt of Crelima the Mad once Arsha explained the situation. “Of all the insane acts you pulled when facing me,” growled Oyed as he and Arsha approached the landing ramp, “this is the worst.”
“Yeah, well, if it makes you feel comfortable,” replied Arsha, “you can call me a desperate woman.” The ship’s landing ramp lowered and the two stepped out. Soldiers and citizens lined a path from the ship to the Crypt as Arsha and Oyed walked to it. The Hanthuus, Queen Entralii the Succubus, Queen Yurmar the Naga, and Queen Lartin the human, stood at a large set of double doors, leading into a massive stone mound.
“I don’t think I need to tell you to be careful,” said Entralii.
“Mortal though he is,” replied Arsha, “my guide is still Oyed, so I’ll take all the wishes to be careful I can.” Entralii nodded. Lartin and Yurmar then opened the Crypt. Yurmar signed her wishes for Arsha to be careful.
“Yurmar’s right,” remarked Lartin. “He’s treacherous.”
“There IS something you can do,” said Arsha. She then whispered something to Lartin. Lartin grinned.
“Anything to get you out of that situation as fast as possible.”
“Whatever you whispered to my wife,” called Entralii, “I want in.” She then whispered something to Arsha, prompting her to grin.
“Be ready when we come out,” chuckled the Princess.
“Can we go now?!” grunted Oyed. Lartin and Yurmar then opened the doors. Oyed looked at Arsha. “…Well?!”
“After you,” said Arsha. Oyed rolled his eyes as he went in first with Arsha following behind.
“There are five traps along the way. The first starts with a set of swinging bladed pendulums. The disarming button’s on the other side of the pendulums. There IS a way to go through with them, but it requires rolling under them.”
“When can we expect them?”
“Just ahead.” A massive axe then swung in front of them, swinging on a pendulum. More axes followed in the same manner. Arsha stood a few steps back from the first axe.
“So, smart guy?” asked Arsha. Oyed rolled his eyes, then took a few steps back. He then ran forward and rolled under the axes. He ended up on the other side and slammed his hand on a brick. The assemblies swinging the axes then fell apart, dropping the axes with a loud clang. When everything stopped moving, Arsha made her way through the axes, making sure she didn’t hurt herself. “What’s the next trap?” she asked.
“Shooting spears,” answered Oyed. “In the walkway between the walls hiding the spears, there’s a path with certain symbols on it. Only the son’s name will carry you to safety.”
“…You mean the big yellow ball in the sky or the male offspring?”
“Exactly. The one person he cared about, the one person he actually treated well and encouraged to treat others well. The one who cured the Vampires of their solar weakness. King Dragulnak the Sane.”
“So, we step on the symbols that make up Dragulnak’s name and the spears stay within the walls?”
“Bingo. However, the tiles DO move.” Arsha rolled her eyes.
“I had a feeling there was a catch.” They arrived at the moving tile floor and saw the symbols. “…So there IS a pattern,” chuckled Arsha.
“I never really learned the pattern,” muttered Oyed.
“More like you’re too impatient to find one.” Arsha then bent her knees as if she was ready to pounce, her tails twitched, then she sprang onto the first tile, then the second, then the third and on and on until she safely reached the other side. She then pressed on a brick extending outwards and the spears shot out while the tiles aligned themselves into Dragulnak’s name. Oyed simply strolled down the path.
“Well done,” he remarked. “It will be some time before we reach the third trap, so I need to ask you, as a representative of life itself, why oppose me? Why do you fear conflict?”
“Because there needs to be a world without it!”
“You sound way too much like Dr. Borg.” Arsha bristled at the insult. “You two don’t realize that the Final War will help you fully understand evolution!”
“Yes, the Final War is me doing you a favor! Dr. Borg stands for order above anything else. No passion, no dreams (and that’s rather ironic, given that one of her spouses is a Succubus), just discipline. Obedience. She’s frozen in place, an evolutionary dead end, just like you’re in danger of being! Why side with the old? Embrace the new! Growth through pain, struggle, conflict, and war! You, of all people, should understand this!”
“Yes, you! The daughter of a Kitsune proud of her heritage! The Kitsunes came out of the War of the Depths stronger! Better! …How much better? How much stronger are they, fighting THIS war? When it DOES end, and all life reaches their pinnacle, the new Realm will rise from the ashes of the old one with strength and power beyond your imagination!”
“I see what your endgame is,” said Arsha. “Let me pose this question to you, what happens when the supposed new Realm changes?”
“Then their Final War will begin. It will take time, perhaps trillions upon trillions of years, for them to prepare, but they will fight and serve evolution just as other iterations did.”
“…Other iterations? You mean the Realms aren’t the first?!”
“I’ve been creating Realms and all the life-forms within them before the Divine Ones were born. These Realms were the result of my children’s carelessness. They thought that they needed to stay aloof, let life take its course. When they heard that I would destroy their Realms, they locked me away! They tried to stop my ambitions!”
“Because they knew that life was precious, and you were toying with both life and death!”
“That is the cycle! That is the force of history itself! You can’t win against that, no one can! …I couldn’t, but I tried when I first came into being. Over time, I embraced it! Helped it along by creating conflict! The weak perish, the strong get stronger! Evolution must be served! There’s no other way!”
“Evolution doesn’t NEED a servant!” snapped Arsha. Oyed turned to her and stared. “…Now I get your vendetta against Dr. Borg! In fact, I finally understand why you two fought against the Divine Ones! It’s why you haven’t killed each other! You want the Divine Ones dead so the Final War can turn into order versus chaos! It’s about ideology!”
“Of course. As you said, it’s order vs. chaos. Choose one.”
“Yeah, choose, but only from the choices YOU give us! Don’t you see that this is wrong?!” Oyed scoffed. “When the Realms before us were gone, you stayed behind, posing as a guardian, a shepherd for the mortal races before ours! You’ve lost your way! This isn’t about teaching us or helping us! This is about you being right! …But what if we reject the idea that we must decide which of you is right? What if we simply walk away from the ridiculous concept of order and chaos being separate?” Oyed grabbed Arsha by the neck and slammed her against the wall.
“YOU CAN’T DO THAT!” he roared.
“The…Final War…won’t end?” gagged Arsha.
“Then…there is…no hope?”
“There is only chaos and evolution! You will fight because I tell you to fight!”
“You’re…forgetting…something…here!” One of Arsha’s tails pointed in the direction of the exit. “Your…cure is…out there and…they’re…monitoring my…life-signs and…the comms are…open!” Oyed then remembered that he still had poison in his veins and recalled the deal he had to accept.
“You let them listen!” he growled. “You let them know!” He then dropped Arsha. She coughed as she tried to get air into her lungs. When she recovered, she picked herself up.
“That’s now TWO weapons against Dr. Borg, one against her ideology and one against her potential godhood. Speaking of the god slayer weapon, shall we?” Oyed snarled, then they resumed their journey.
Oyed sat in his cell for three days, allowed only the minimum of exercise and the most essential of food and drink. Reb brought in his midday meal. He gave a lecherous smile. “Have I been that good a boy?” he asked. He was handed the tray with his meal, and he began eating and drinking. Reb’s slime then pulled up a chair and she sat down, facing Oyed and pulling out a data pad. Oyed arched an eyebrow. “Okay, in all seriousness, what’s so important that the former Admiral of the now-defunct Scarlet Stream pirates needs to look at me?”
“Not look at, talk to,” corrected Reb. “I’ve been looking over these INTERESTING reports that I acquired when I retook my RIGHTFUL home of Plunder Island Stronghold. I’ve noticed some VERY interesting patterns on your front lines, note the PLURAL form. Was there ANYONE you wouldn’t fight against?”
“We need the room to AGGRESSIVELY expand,” replied Oyed. Reb rolled her eyes at his mockery of her verbal tic.
“Only an IDIOT fights a war on two fronts. You, sir, are the KING of idiots by fighting a war on forty-five fronts!”
“The Realm Trinity Empire can still handle it. Their resources AND yours are greater than you think.”
“So, my father’s crew was supplying BOTH sides, hm?” Oyed arched an eyebrow.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Reb clicked her tongue in disappointment. She then pulled out a crystal ball and an image formed in it. It was one of Oyed talking to a bearded man with the same color hair as her.
“Lord Oyed, this has been VERY profitable,” praised the man. “Both sides are paying through the nose for weapons, as you CORRECTLY said! I tell you, war or peace, it matters not to ME!”
“How did you-?!” spluttered the present-day Oyed.
“My father’s the DREADFUL source of my own paranoia,” explained Reb. “When he trained me to take command of the Scarlet Stream pirates, I became FRIGHTFULLY fearful that he might sell me out to the highest bidder, so I took the liberty of bugging his cabin during his meetings with other people. One never knows whether an INCONVENIENT truth will either fall between the cracks and vanish or be revealed to other parties, particularly parties that are enemies. That conversation worried me. After my husband and I were captured, we took steps to make sure we were in a STAUNCHLY protected position. Oyed, I have the feeling that your former associates are going to keep the Realms in a state of stagnation. When they go down, the Realms will fall.” Oyed rolled his eyes.
“They won’t have that kind of power, even as gods. You don’t appreciate how flawed they are.” He resumed eating his meal.
“I appreciate their flaws alright! And that is why your UNWARRANTED reluctance to help Arsha worries me!”
“And there it is! That magic word ‘Arsha’! The name that means ‘peace-seeker’ in the Mid-realm language!”
“Well, I intend to help her fulfill that in terms of this unfocused war! By drawing all forces into many smaller wars, you have effectively weakened their means of recovery, should the Council decide to do as you wanted!”
“The only way that they’ll destroy the Realms is through their incompetence! I may hate my children, but they were NOT incompetent as gods. Dr. Borg and her friends, however, they are, and they’ll be destroying the Realms because of it!”
“My point EXACTLY! And you are going to help us take the NECESSARY steps to prevent that! And you will start by disarming the Crypt’s VILE traps for Arsha!” Oyed laughed at Reb’s demand.
“Rebarisal Rojam, you are a fool!” he finally said. “I don’t know if Arsha told you this, but she correctly guessed that my title of Destroyer tells anyone what I do for funsies! If they’re gonna destroy the Realms, why would I help?”
“Because I asked you. Because you DO care about the Realms in some small capacity. Because you want to be the ONLY Destroyer.” Oyed chuckled to himself. Reb sighed. “All right, I didn’t want to panic you, but the real reason is because I made sure your food and drink were laced with my supply of tarsaline.” Oyed arched an eyebrow.
“…You’re gonna lie about my meal being poisoned?”
“Scanner, please,” Reb requested of the guard. He pulled the scanner out and her slime suit extended a tendril, grabbed it, then handed it to Oyed. Oyed set the scanner to look for poison and waved the wand over his meal. It flashed red and reported that the meal was laced with tarsaline. He goggled in fear at Reb and the guard.
“It’s been updated and tested,” said the guard. “You wolfed down a poisoned meal.”
“Tarsaline’s a VERY interesting poison,” chuckled Reb. “It kills a human within twenty days, and you ARE human, according to all medical scans. During the first ten days, the MAGIC timeframe where you can just take the antidote with no other medical attention, it enters the bloodstream and settles for just a bit. During the remaining ten days, it makes its way to the cardiovascular system. By then, you’ll need the antidote AND medical attention. On the twentieth day, the poison permanently alters all nerve signals to the heart so that it quivers, and no amount of defibrillation, antidote, or medical attention will help reset your quivering heart. To those who won’t know how to look, it will look like you had died of an extreme heart attack.” Oyed rushed to the energy shield in fear and anger, snarling at Reb.
“You give me the antidote! NOW!” he demanded.
“Arsha gave me the authorization to poison you, oh GREAT Oyed.”
“If you want proof,” called Arsha’s voice as she entered the brig, “I can provide it.”
“That won’t be necessary!” growled Oyed. “Just…why?! Why would you do something so desperate?!”
“To guarantee your cooperation,” explained Arsha. “And because, if our positions were reversed, you would have done the same to me. If I recall, you had a particular fondness for the Under-realm during the Savage Age and the Under-realm was the poison capital up until the middle of the First Age of Unity. It was always the instrument of choice back then.”
“Given my criminal connections,” continued Reb, “I always had a phial of tarsaline on standby. I only told Arsha about it a day before we got to Frigandor.” Oyed sighed in defeat. The only way he would be cured was by doing what Arsha said.
“What do you want me to do?” he asked.
“You’ve told me that you saw Crelima set the traps in the Crypt before he committed suicide” said Arsha. “You will disarm the traps and tell me how to use the Talkwen Stone. You will then lead me out of the Crypt with the Talkwen Stone in my hand. Once that’s done, you will be given the antidote. Oh, and just so we’re clear; no compliance, no cure.” She then took his drink of water, then made sure she was out of the cell before adding a drop of a neon-green liquid to it. The instant the drop made contact, it spewed smoke before stopping and returning to its clear state. She then raised the glass. “To your health, Lord Oyed.” She then drank the water after her mocking toast. Oyed snarled as he thought about what to do next.
Everyone laughed for a good minute, annoying Oyed. He even went so far as to put his fingers in his ears. The laughter soon died down as everyone picked themselves up. Their sides were hurting from laughing so much and tears fell down their face. “By the Ones,” panted a guard, “I never laughed so hard since the Trinnies killed my wives, harem, and children!”
“Are you finished?” asked Oyed as he unplugged his ears.
“…You’re serious, aren’t you?!” realized Arsha.
“All right, buster, riddle me this: why should we help you?! You’re Oyed the Destroyer! The title alone tells us what you do for funsies! Why should we do ANYTHING for you?!”
“You’ll help me because doing so will give you a weapon against Dr. Borg and her Councilors should they rise to godhood!”
“Captain, a word,” called another guard. Everyone gathered around the guard, and they whispered to each other. Oyed could see Arsha’s tails and ears droop. She turned back to the cell.
“Fine, we’ll help out,” she muttered. “What needs to be done?”
“The weapon I speak of is known as the Talkwen Stone,” explained Oyed. “It was designed to drain Divine Mana through magical means. I never expected Dr. Borg to make a technological version of it (shows how much I underestimated her), but her research said that anyone with Divine Mana could be drained through her machine, meaning that the Council would be vulnerable to it as well. It took her the entire war, possibly before that, to construct the original machine and you lot don’t have the time to make one for yourselves. Mortals can touch it with no problems at all, but I couldn’t, and neither could my children when we were gods. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get it to discern between my own Divine Mana and your precious Divine Ones. So I tossed it away…until a certain someone picked it up, then set it into a crown later in his life. I believe there’s a city named after that certain someone, right here in the Under-realm.”
“…Crelima?” asked Arsha
“The first Vampire King himself!” confirmed Oyed. “When he ruled the Eastern Continent’s night and constructed Crelima City to his original design, he listened to my whispers. He was the first of my thralls…and the first to betray me! It DID cost him his life, though. At my behest, I ordered him to construct a crypt that only my immortal body could go through. He ordered all sorts of traps to be built; bladed pendulums, poison gas, spears shot out of the wall, spiked pits, acid, flame jets, the works! For reasons that escaped me completely, he ordered the crypt to be constructed from the center to outwards, then he set the traps from the outside to the center. In the central chamber, there was a window with a curtain. I always found it odd at the time…until he finished the traps. I don’t know if you know this, but there’s no way to tell time in the Depths. Well, there was no way for me to tell what time it was when Crelima finished setting all the traps. He looked around the central chamber to admire the handiwork. He then muttered that it would serve. I told him to leave the crypt…but he said no.”
“That must have ticked you off to no end,” chuckled Arsha.
“Oh, I was LIVID! You see, I needed him to tell his family about the use of the Talkwen Stone, but he intended to stay there for the rest of his life, and it was cut short by his own actions. You see, by the time he finished his labors, the sun was already in the sky. He told me that the weapon would be forever lost to time, then he threw back the curtain and allowed the sun to enter the chamber, and you know what happened to Vampires of that time when they are bathed in sunlight.”
“They turned to ash.”
“That’s exactly what happened to King Crelima. There the Talkwen Stone sits, embedded in the first symbol of office, the Crown of Eternal Night, in the ash that was the first Vampire King, Crelima the Mad.”
“The Crypt’s been off limits since 900 FAU,” Arsha muttered. She then started planning. “Maybe if we can get permission from the Hanthuus, we could get access. They’d understand the need.”
“How are you going to get past the traps?” asked Oyed.
“Well, considering that you were involved in their creation-”
“Hold on, let me make sure I understand you. You think I’m going to get you past the traps?”
“Well, given that time is against us-”
“You’re the miracle worker. So, work a miracle. I already told you of the Talkwen Stone’s existence. That’s all the help you’re getting from me.”
“That’s not funny!”
“It wasn’t a joke. Arsha, you said that people like us were parents. Well, unlike my children, I ain’t no whirligig parent. Sink or swim.”
“Oyed, you want this war to end as much as I do and-!”
“End? Oh, I see! Arsha Royana, this war is FAR too entertaining for me to want to end right now! There’s only one path I see for you, and that’s you trying desperately to use the Talkwen Stone! And you said that time is against you. Did someone in Realmfleet tell you to end the war or surrender your claim to the Mid-realm throne?” Arsha said nothing. “…The silence speaks volumes! The war may end, but I WILL see you fail in SOME capacity! That’s likely the only bit of happiness I’ll get now that I’m as mortal as you.” Oyed then laid down on his bunk. “Tell me how it goes. I eagerly await the results.” He then shut his eyes and started napping.
“Captain, we can-!” called a guard.
“That won’t be necessary,” replied Arsha. “I have a plan in mind, I just wish I didn’t need to resort to such a barbarous method.” She then whispered instructions to the guard.
Everyone followed the Realmfleet Revenants into the abandoned base and shivered. Yes, it was creepy looky with the eeriest of atmospheres, but it was also bitter cold. “Sweet Mordek,” shivered Arsha, “this is frigid!”
“You’re not kidding,” agreed Foresna. “Who keeps a base this cold?!”
“It was only a few degrees warmer, believe it or not,” replied Blenter. “All heating elements were shut down a few days ago.”
“Well, the sooner we confirm the unaccounted 51 life signs, the happier I’ll be!” grumbled Malnar as she rubbed her arms. They all arrived at a large door.
“No one was granted access to this room, save for the Council,” explained Eltan. “The locking mechanisms are located at the top.” Arsha fired a few magic blasts from her wand. The door then dropped into the floor and revealed what, or rather, WHO, was inside! It was Oyed and the Divine Ones! They were huddled together, but unconscious and had black spots all over their skin! Arsha opened her communicator.
“Arsha to Endeavor!” she called. “Divine Ones and Titan located! They have severe frostbite! Emergency mass teleport at my location to the nearest and warmest medical area that can hold them all!” Everyone was surrounded in a teleport spell and vanished.
Several tents filled Frigandor’s central plaza. The Divine Ones and Oyed were all split between the medical tents and the doctors got to work. Marshii and one of the men in the Larkentha’s Blue Rose Harem looked over Mordek. “He’s definitely reading as a mortal Dwarf,” muttered the man.
“And the frostbite’s really severe,” remarked Marshii. “Check for gangrene.”
“Gangrene located in his right foot. It’s way too severe. He’s gonna have to lose the foot to survive. In fact, he’s gonna need surgery to get rid of the other areas.”
“Understood. Advise the surgery tent that they have another patient, one that requires amputation of his right foot.”
Mordek was on a surgery bed with Marshii and other surgeons in their scrubs. He had a mask that delivered the anesthetic. “Everything’s ready,” reported an Orc nurse.
“We will now begin amputation of the right foot,” said Marshii. “Temperature of healthy foot?”
“97.2 degrees Marthan,” replied another surgeon. “Average healthy temperature for a Dwarf.”
“Temperature of diseased foot?”
“4.82 degrees Marthan,” answered a third surgeon. “It drops just above the ankle.”
“Stops just above the ankle,” said the second surgeon.
“And skin coloration is all black due to dry gangrene,” recalled Marshii. “Right, we’ll sever the limb a little higher than the start of the infected area. Bone saw.”
“Bone saw,” replied the nurse as she handed Marshii the saw.
After a few hours of surgery to remove the foot and discolorations on his skin, Mordek’s eyes fluttered open. The anesthetic had worn off and he was slowly regaining his senses. “…Th…the Heights…?” he mumbled.
“No, Frigandor,” replied Marshii as she stood by his bed. Mordek turned his gaze to her.
“Hello, Lord Mordek.”
“…Not a god anymore,” said Mordek as he recalled what Dr. Borg did. “No need to call me a Lord. Depths, no need to call any of us Lord or Lady.”
“Depends on where your life takes you financially,” chuckled Marshii. Her smile faded again. “There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it; we had to amputate your right foot.”
“…My frostbite was that severe?”
“Your foot was gangrenous. There was no way you could survive on that thing. We had to surgically remove frostbitten areas on your body. Your foot was the only thing we couldn’t save.”
“Twelve others had to lose a limb or extremity, but you’re all alive. …Unfortunately, so’s Oyed and he didn’t need amputation to survive.” Mordek growled.
“Because, of COURSE, he’d be alright!”
“If Arsha’s Blood Contract is anything to go by, Oyed’s on borrowed time.”
“Well, there’s that mercy. …Dr. Borontho, I’m a grateful man. You saved my life, and I can never repay that. None of us can.”
“Just live out your best life, that’s all the payment I ask. Now, when Oyed’s recovered, we’re gonna be interrogating him. I have a feeling he’s gonna talk, given that Dr. Borg betrayed him.”
“His vindictive nature should give us the advantage. In the meantime, am I medically eligible for a prosthetic foot?”
“As a matter of fact, you’re all medically eligible for prosthetics.” Mordek smiled
“Perfect. I shall spend my recovery time deciding on what kind of foot I want.”
“That’s how most amputees spend their recovery time,” chuckled Marshii good-naturedly. “…You know, you look good with pupils.”
“Pardon?” asked Mordek.
“Your eyes, you have pupils now.” Marshii handed him a mirror to show what she was talking about. Mordek looked and saw that his eyes did indeed have pupils.
“…It’s really interesting how pupils make an eye look much more inviting,” he mused.
After everyone recovered, Oyed was placed in the Endeavor’s brig. All the guards on shift had a chance to make fun of him for a bit until Arsha entered the room. She faced Oyed’s cell. “Finally,” grunted Oyed. “You know, you took your sweet time getting here! I’m surprised my foot hadn’t fallen off!”
“Some of your children had to lose that kind of extremity,” replied Arsha. “Now, what happened? How did you and your children become mortal and when did they start planning to take your places?”
“That scheming bug, Borg, drained us of our power and immortality! All of our Divine Mana has been drained and bottled up!”
“Your Divine Mana?! Is she nuts?!”
“That mantis of a scientist has the idea that blending my Divine Mana with my children’s will give her and her fellow Council members godhood! …However, I didn’t expect the aftermath would involve-”
“You being force-fed pizza?”
“YES, ME BEING FORCE-FED PIZZA! HA HA! LET’S ALL HAVE A LAUGH AT THE EX-TITAN!” Oyed then drew in a breath. “I’m only gonna assume that you found security footage of Yulduk and one of the robots torturing me like that.”
“Well, I’ll destroy him for that. In fact, I will destroy the entire Realm Trinity Empire for turning against me! Cytanek Yavenag Borg will die and YOU, Arsha Royana, will be the instrument of my vengeance!” Everyone stared at Oyed, then looked at each other. Oyed was confused as to why everyone was doing that. Everyone then collapsed, clutching their sides. Oyed was REALLY confused now. He then saw them shaking in some form. A thought then formed in his head. “…Really?” he asked in a deadpan voice. Arsha managed to turn over as she laughed like a wounded harp seal. In fact, everyone was laughing at Oyed for the audacity of his request. Oyed simply sat on his bunk and waited for the laughing to stop.
The enemy fleet didn’t move. Both sides were in a state of cold war, daring the other to move. On the Endeavor, Shalvey noticed something on her console. “Captain, the Skysword, High Sky, Sand Dune, and Falchion are hailing the enemy fleet,” she reported.
“Patch us through,” ordered Arsha. Five faces appeared on screen, all of them everyone recognized.
“This is Velkor Blacktail, King of the Manticore Hegemony and Acting Captain of the CRS Sand Dune.”
“This is Tursu Molkar, Queen of the Sphinx Democracy and Acting Captain of the CRS Falchion.”
“This is Hanjar Mazula, King of the Gryphon Authority and Acting Captain of the CRS Skysword.”
“And this is Erudsa Miltarii, Queen of the Gorgon Assembly and Acting Captain of the CRS High Sky.”
“And?” asked Draysna.
“And we wish to fulfill our duty of informing you,” explained Hanjar, “that Realmfleet has designated Frigandor as under our protection according to the terms of the Treaty of the Heights signed at the end of the War of the Depths.”
“We don’t recognize Realmfleet treaties, and you weren’t supposed to either, you traitors!” snarled Draysna. “The Empire’s claim to this continent takes precedence! Leave at once!”
“You are cutting off Frigandor from the outside world,” replied Tursu. “We cannot allow our friends to be so isolated thanks to the interference of an enemy power.”
“It is our duty and pleasure,” continued Velkor, “to free Frigandor and render aid to the inhabitants.”
“Captain or General or whatever in the Depths is the Trinny title for someone like you,” Erudsa went on, “right now, I’m personally on the bridge of the toughest, fastest, and most powerful class of skyship Realmfleet has ever put into service and I’m part of a fleet under the command of a miracle-worker who knows how to get the job done. We’ve all got our mana cannons locked on your engines and nothing would make me happier than you giving Arsha an excuse to order me to flay your hide to the bone! But instead, we’re all going to you a chance to spare Arsha the headache of giving that order. So, we ask you only once, stand down.”
“Get in on the call,” Arsha ordered Shalvey. The faces on the screen then reacted as Arsha appeared on their own. “Captain Draysna, I’d take up their generous offer. I’m willing to give the order to tan your Revenant hide.” Drasyna’s comms officer then whispered something to him. He growled and thumped the armrest of his chair.
“You’re lucky I’m needed elsewhere!” he growled to his foes. “But when we meet again, you won’t be so fortunate!” His face then vanished as his part of the call ended.
“The enemy fleet is leaving!” called Malak. “Captain, the Trinnies are abandoning Frigandor!”
“Excellent decision!” praised Arsha. “All ships, stand down from red alert.” She then gave her attention to the other Captains. “Everyone, when in the Depths-?”
“When we heard the rumors that Oyed killed you,” explained Velkor, “all six of us used the Inter-realm comms still available to us to form a mutual defense compact to aid one another when the Realmgates were operational again and to try and enter Realmfleet. When assignments were available, we accepted.”
“Just because we were cut off,” chuckled Erudsa, “didn’t mean we were gonna leave Realmfleet in the lurch. You freed us from Oyed and got back from his botched attempt to kill you, and we’re supposed to repay you by sitting on our duffs?”
“Captain Royana,” called Tanta’s voice over the comms, “we are reaty to telifer ait to Frikantor. We leaf te searsh for Oyet in your hants.”
“Land all supply distribution parties,” ordered Arsha. She then turned to Shalvey. “Tell the teleporter room to standby for my strike team.”
The strike team consisted of Arsha, her spouses, Bashoon, and Delselii. They headed to a meeting place outside Frigandor. They waited for a few minutes until five Revenants approached them. They were a Naga woman named Eltan Sontor, a male Ice Elf named Sheendii Eltraa, a male Cecaelia named Drelta Meltrek, a female Slime named Blenter Ansii, and a male human named Entran Deltar. These Revenants died during Arsha’s first encounter with Reb Rojam and her pirate fleet, brought back after Dr. Borg restored Yulduk to life, and worked under her for only a moment until they turned on her, their pride at being Realmfleet soldiers overshadowing Dr. Borg’s desires. They became known as the Realmfleet Revenants and were used to gather enemy intelligence when they could. “Good to see you again, Eltan,” greeted Arsha.
“It’s…it’s good to…see you,” replied Eltan. “The…entrance is…this way.” Eltan then drew in a breath.
“…Are you alright?”
“We’re fine,” assured Eltan in a normal talking speed. “Just needed a moment. Come on. The entrance is this way.” The Realmfleet Revenants led the team to an ice cave, then they had to catch their breath.
“Okay, no, this isn’t right,” called Arsha. “You’re exhausted somehow. Even before you were made into Revenants, you weren’t this tired. What’s going on?”
“Everything…Captain,” panted Sheendii. He then pulled back his hood to reveal that his veins and eyes were very dim. The rest of the Realmfleet Revenants pulled back their own hoods and revealed the same. Blenter had to move her core up to her head to reveal that it was in the same condition.
“I’ve never known Revenants to lose their shine,” muttered Foresna.
“It was the removal of Oyed that sparked this,” explained Blenter. “Talking to him was a key component of resurrecting us.”
“Honestly, I can’t say that I fully blame Dr. Borg,” said Drelta. “With him around, he was too dangerous to the Realms. He had already seen how his children were wired up to a draining machine targeting their Divine Mana and we’d be damned if we went out like that. We never saw it coming.”
“But every single Revenant felt it,” continued Entran. “We could feel our lives beginning to slip away, though we couldn’t place it at the time. And in that moment, that very infinitesimal second before our second death, we started drawing in mana from the air to save ourselves from dying all over again before we could see the end of the Final War. With every ounce of will power we had left, we bought ourselves time and expanded our moment of dying into weeks, maybe months.”
“But it’s like operating in a fog,” said Eltan as she wrapped up the situation. “Everything’s a little unreal and warped. I personally feel like I’m slithering through water sometimes. Then, when we use magic…we can feel our lives slipping away unless we take in massive mana infusions. The five of us are running on fumes now, since the blockade prevented us from getting more mana, but we’ve got just enough left to show you the results of what happened.” Eltan then revealed a secret keypad inside the wall and keyed in a code that opened a hidden door into a metal, yet cavernous maw of a tunnel. “This way,” directed Eltan. Everyone entered the frigid base, their wands drawn.
Arsha looked over some papers in her room at the Emboramiis’ castle. As she worked, she heard the door chime. “Come in,” she called. Reb then entered the room. “Ah, Captain Rojam, I heard you were here.”
“A DELIGHTFUL pleasure to see you,” remarked Reb as she sat on a couch opposite Arsha’s chair. A red tendril grew from her slime and idly picked up a paper Arsha had already looked at. “And what are our BLAZING yellow eyes looking over right now?”
“Reports from the front lines,” replied Arsha.
“Ah.” The room fell silent. The silence became uncomfortable. “…Doesn’t your BELOVED ship have somewhere to go?”
“…I don’t have any movement orders just yet. Orbak, Malnar, and Rellmeer are still planning which ship’s going to Frigandor.”
“I thought the fleet was heading there RIGHT now.”
“No, that’s tomorrow, at the latest.”
“Tomorrow. I see.” The uncomfortable silence returned.
“…Okay, Reb, what gives?” demanded Arsha.
“Pardon me, my DEAR Arsha?” asked the pirate woman.
“Rellmeer’s here to take down Dr. Borg’s parents from what I’ve heard. What’s YOUR angle?”
“…Well, now you force a confession from me. The truth is, Arsha, there’s someone out there with a way to end this war right now. I want to be there when they reveal how to do it and I want to make sure they hold to the mark. That may or may not involve tarsaline, given the person’s character.”
“Tarsaline? You’re joking, I hope.”
“I must admit I’m too scared to joke.”
“…My Ones, you’re serious. You’re actually scared of Dr. Borg, aren’t you?”
“Remsu, actually,” corrected Reb. “I admit that I’ve never shied away from taking a life, but it’s always been as a means to an end, to obtain the riches and power that was denied to me and my loved ones by the usual methods. I wanted to grab respect where I could.”
“And look where that got you,” scoffed Arsha.
“When I was part of the breakout of Realmfleet Max, I saw only a glimpse of Remsu’s power! And once she and the rest of the Imperial Council obtain godhood, their power will increase a thousand times over that!”
“You think they plan to destroy people that wronged them?”
“Think BIGGER, Princess!” snapped Reb. “Killing their tormentors would just be their opening act! They’ll have the power to reshape all of existence AND the will! …I made sure of that with Remsu.” Arsha arched an eyebrow.
“I contracted her for a job before she got married to Dr. Borg. She once didn’t have the stomach to kill and now she’s a vindictive woman. I feel responsible for her being what she is today. I didn’t recognize her during the breakout, but I soon discovered old files on those I contracted. Her picture and kills were QUITE prominent. I…I helped mold that monster into what she is today. …But it’s FAR from over! We still have a chance and…I can’t believe I’m saying this aloud…if we put aside our differences one last time, I can get us close to the Divine Tower! But, if we’re to survive, you’re going to need to amplify your Candidate’s Aura. The rumor is that you’re considered a Candidate for being the Divine Ones’ Champion.”
“The rumors are true and I’m trying to amplify it, but I don’t have enough mana to do so.”
“That’s a DREADFUL lie. I heard that you had that power during your first fight with the Titan! Rumor has it that it was once contained in your hairpiece!” Arsha’s eyes widened.
“What you heard about-” Arsha took her rose out of her bun- “was the pent-up rage of the ones who wore this when they misinterpreted Sorsha’s original instructions on this thing! You saw untempered power that would turn a woman into a mindless, dangerous animal!”
“And the only kind of power that has a chance against a god, should we fail to stop their ascension!”
“I will NOT use that kind of power again! It nearly killed me! It would have killed-!” Arsha stopped as she thought about Foresna, then the rest of her lovers. “No. Never again unless there’s no other way.” Reb scowled at Arsha’s refusal
“If you were TRULY picked to be our gods’ Champion, born to save the Realms, how now can you refuse their plea?” Arsha then got an idea. She looked at a report stating that there were fifty-one unknown life-signs detected in Frigandor. She grinned.
“I think I know how to beat Dr. Borg, but the first step starts in finding out who these fifty-one are if they aren’t who I think they are.”
“…The Divine Ones?”
“And Oyed. He’s the one we need to talk to. He must have some sort of weapon that was meant to destroy his children. Maybe he can help us modify it to use against the Council should they ascend to godhood.”
“Then what are we gonna do if there IS such a DREADED weapon? Ask him nicely to please let us use it and please not kill us in the process?” Arsha smirked. Reb’s sarcastic smile…faded. “…Oh, sweet Ones, we are!”
“Keep your tarsaline on standby in case Oyed says no. I have a feeling he’s gonna need it.” Reb arched an eyebrow.
With the Under to Mid Realmgate now repaired and synced to the Mid to Under Realmgate, the plan was set in motion. The Endeavor would lead the larger fleet to free Frigandor and get them back on their feet. When Frigandor is freed, Arsha would lead a team to find Dr. Borg’s base and see if the unaccounted life-signs were Oyed and the Divine Ones. Once done, Arsha would make her case to Oyed and convince him to join us. What those who signed the initial Blood Contract didn’t tell everyone was that Oyed was going to die one way or another. The details would be made public once Oyed was gone. As the fleet moved towards Frigandor, everyone was expecting the eventual firefight. They were rather surprised when only a few Imperial ships rose from Frigandor’s borders to meet them. “Realmfleet,” called the enemy flagship, “this is Captain Draysna. You are ordered to surrender and prepare to be boarded by order of the Realm Trinity Empire.” The Endeavor crew looked at each other in disbelief.
“They can’t be serious,” muttered Malak.
“Open a channel,” ordered Arsha.
“Channel open,” replied Shalvey. A Revenant human man’s face appeared on the screen.
“This is Princess Royana of the flagship, Endeavor. Frigandor is under Realmfleet protection. Withdraw or be destroyed.”
“Negative,” replied the Revenant. “We have authority here. Do not force us to engage your fleet.”
“Why not? There are very few of you that survived battle against a fleet this size. Their location is currently unknown, yours was made obvious by your arrival here. If you value your lives, be elsewhere.”
“Captain, something’s coming up from behind us!” called Malak.
“Can you identify?” asked Arsha.
“…They’re Shadow Dragons with Drow riders.” A relieved smile then crossed Malak’s face. “General Dotan’s leading the charge with Tanta on his back!”
“It’s been a while!” chuckled Arsha. She turned to Dalengor. “If you wish to join him, I have no qualms.”
“I’ll be back, Captain!” replied Dalengor. She then cast a teleport spell on herself and vanished from the bridge.