Foresna drummed his fingers on his table at Barmek’s. Recent events were making him worried. “Someone looks unhappy,” rumbled a voice. Foresna glanced up to see Gorfanth standing by the table. “May I?” asked Gorfanth. Foresna nodded and Gorfanth sat near Foresna. “You look like something’s weighing on your thoughts, Farm Boy,” mused Gorfanth.
“It’s been at least a few days since the incident with the Scale-sword,” remarked Foresna. “Five Realmfleet officers who died last year came back to life, fought Arsha, then betrayed their master and helped Arsha, and I haven’t seen hide nor hair of them!”
“They went with Orbak after he arrested Torsko,” explained Gorfanth. “They’re trying to find a way to rest in peace again.”
“We could really use the Revenants in the coming fight!” protested Foresna.
“With Oyed supposed to come?” asked Gorfanth. “Foresna, that’s way too risky. For all we know, the Titan could bring them under his control. Talking to him IS a part of creating a Revenant.”
“And that’s another thing!” grumbled Foresna. “We’re taking a fleet of ships to fight the Titan himself! The future’s looking a little bloody!”
“‘Obsessing over a potential bad future does not change it’,” quoted Gorfanth.
“Neither’s accepting our fate of fighting the Final War in our lifetime!” argued Foresna.
“I’m not,” answered Gorfanth, “but we can’t change a future we don’t fully know. The Divine Ones will guide us.”
“Can we trust them right now?!” demanded Foresna. “It looks like they’re going to get us killed!” His attention was then grabbed by an Elf woman sneaking by the restaurant’s door. “Hey, is she a member of the crew?” he asked.
“I don’t think so,” replied Gorfanth. “Come on.” He and Foresna followed her through the ship until they reached the Mana Stores.
“Well now,” mused the Elf, Sorsha, “I think I can get some of this to…”
“Excuse me!” called a security Elf. Sorsha yelped as she turned around to see him. Foresna and Gorfanth also made their presence known by clearing their throats.
“…Could have sworn I cast all sorts of stealth spells,” muttered Sorsha.
“Who are you and what are you doing here?” demanded the security Elf.
“Aren’t you gonna ask them too?!” asked Sorsha as she pointed to Foresna and Gorfanth.
“…They’re the Captain’s fiancés,” replied the security Elf. “Most likely, they followed you at some point.”
“…Okay, I need your mana stores,” explained Sorsha.
“With a battle coming up? No way!” snapped the security Elf.
“I have a blight to take care of,” growled Sorsha, “and I can’t do that without mana!”
“Well, we have a battle with Oyed and his forces,” snarled Gorfanth as he summoned a massive axe over his head. He held it in one hand.
“…Er, you know, I think I’ll just leave,” gulped Sorsha, not feeling brave enough to take on an armed, adult Minotaur. “Good luck in the fight.” She cast a teleport spell and vanished in orange light.
“Thank you, Mr. Steelhorn,” bid the security Elf.
“That’s gonna be 20 golds,” remarked Foresna.
“Wha…no way!” argued Gorfanth. “The bet was if Oyed would send an assassin to kill Arsha! She was just interested in the ship’s mana stores!”
“Semantics,” countered Foresna. Gorfanth rolled his eyes as he dismissed the axe.
Arsha was in her Ready Room, setting her head for the coming fight. She was sure that more would die than on Reb’s island. As of now, she was thinking of a way to keep the casualties down as much as possible. Her thoughts were interrupted by the door chime. “Come in,” she called. Falheem then entered the room. “Lady Falheem!” yelped Arsha.
“Peace, Arsha,” replied Falheem. “I just came to check on you, see how you were doing.”
“…If I tell you the truth, you need to promise that it never leaves this room unless at my discretion,” sighed Arsha.
“That serious, I see,” mused Falheem. She snapped her fingers. “We’ll only be interrupted for emergencies and what we discuss will not go beyond the door. You have the solemn promise of Falheem, the Second Black Divine One of Ending.” With the Oath of the Ones spoken, Arsha began.
“Is it bad that I feel like this shouldn’t be happening at all?” she asked.
“The feeling itself isn’t bad,” replied Falheem, “the actions you take because of that feeling are what are judged.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” assured Arsha, “I want to help you guys take down Oyed and imprison him in the After-realm, but I feel like he shouldn’t have broken out in my lifetime.”
“He shouldn’t have, no,” remarked Falheem. “We were trying to keep his prison secure so he wouldn’t break out until, at least, the Third Age has lasted 50 more millennia.”
“It’s just…” Arsha floundered for a bit, moving her hands to find the right words. She finally sighed, giving up. “I don’t know. Lately I’ve been wishing it were Reb Rojam I was fighting or the Splitters.”
“…I know the feeling,” sighed Falheem. “For us Divine Ones, it would be a lot simpler if our enemies were mortals. But life is rarely that simple.”
“Yeah,” sighed Arsha. They sat in silence for a few seconds.
“…If I may change the topic for a minute,” mused Falheem, “what happened to Reb and Melgem?”
“They’re serving a life sentence now,” replied Arsha. “Without them, the Scarlet Stream Pirates would have been directionless.”
“…Would have been?” repeated Falheem. “What do you mean?”
“Rochak’s gathered mutineers and threw in his lot with Dr. Borg,” explained Arsha.
“What in the Realms for?!” yelped Falheem.
“They think profit’s in their future,” replied Arsha.
“With Oyed?! That’s a load of rubbish!” snapped Falheem. “Who are these people and why is Oyed associating with them?!” She took in a breath before continuing. “All right, let’s forget about Oyed’s current followers, let’s talk about his previous ones. How did you know to trust the Realmfleet Revenants?”
“During their accusations,” explained Arsha, “Eltan spoke to me over mental channels. I DID inherit the Kitsunes’ lack of mental powers, but I managed to piece together what their real intentions were, so I got everyone to play along.”
“Thank goodness,” sighed Falheem. “Who knows what could have happened if they actually DID join with Dr. Borg?”
Speaking of a certain Cyborg Sprite, she was busy drafting up a proposal for materials for a new machine. As she worked, she heard a knock on the door. “Enter,” she directed. Tormo then came in. “What can I do for you?” asked Dr. Borg.
“It’s about what Oyed said yesterday,” replied Tormo.
“About Intrag commanding an eternal Under-realm empire?” recalled Dr. Borg. “I offer something greater than that.”
“What’s that?” asked Tormo. Dr. Borg motioned for him to come to her side of the desk. He did so, then bent over a little to hear her whispers. She kept her words in the lowest voice possible. Tormo’s eyes goggled. “…Me? A Divine One’s replacement?” he whispered.
“Exactly,” confirmed Dr. Borg. “That’s why I’ve called you one of my Chosen Ones. The prophecy says that when the Final War’s over, by Mortal’s hands, the Titan falls. Oyed believes that the Titan will be some old monster. Well, he’s in for a nasty surprise.”
“In that case, Intrag can have his puny empire,” chuckled Tormo. “I’ll take godhood any day. Sorry for disturbing you.”
“Nonsense,” replied Dr. Borg. “Anything to help out.” Tormo left the room and Dr. Borg returned to her work.
“Of all the times to be refused,” grumbled Sorsha as she returned to the jungle’s sandy eastern shore.
“No help, huh?” asked a voice.
“Not an ounce of…” Sorsha trailed off as she recognized the voice. She turned around to see the three Giant Spiders from earlier.
“Thank you for joining us for supper!” purred the first Spider. He turned to his comrades. “Get the cooking fire set up.”
“No, you called me fat earlier!” snapped the third Spider.
“NO?! WHAT DO YOU MEAN NO?!” shouted the first Spider.
“And it’s not the first time you called either of us fat!” snarled the second Spider. As they argued, Sorsha tried to get away. The attempt failed as the first Spider’s pedipalp grabbed her and set her in front of him and his friends.
“You’re going nowhere!” he hissed. “We’re going to make a nice stew out of you!”
“I don’t recommend it,” gulped Sorsha. “Us Elves are pretty fattening.”
“Doesn’t matter to me,” cackled the first Spider.
“Why should it?” grumbled the third Spider. “He’s not the one who’s fat!”
“Please, I’m hungry!” whined the first Spider.
“If you think we’re fat, just say so!” snapped the second Spider.
“Please!” begged the first. “I don’t think you two are fat!”
“Then why do you always call us fat?!” demanded the third.
“Wha…ALWAYS?!” protested the first. “I don’t ALWAYS call you two fat!”
“To tell you the truth,” grumbled the second, “it can get a little much to take.”
“Guys, be reasonable!” pleaded the first. “I wasn’t thinking! I was trying to catch our dinner! This isn’t the time…” he finally caved in. “I take it back, you’re not fat.”
“Too late!” snapped the third. “I know your true feelings!”
“Please!” begged the first. “Let’s just prepare her for supper!”
“I suppose her limbs will make for decent subs,” mused the second.
“And we can finish it all off with cinnamon rolls,” suggested the third.
“SUBS?! CINNAMON ROLLS?!” wailed the first. “Imagine what Quaynus would say if she heard you! Please, let’s just chop her up for the stew!”
“Again with the stew!” protested the third. “Why can’t we make nice subs out of her?!”
“Please! Guys!” whined the first. “There’s nothing wrong with stew!”
“I don’t remember the last time I had a cinnamon roll,” mused the second.
“Again with the cinnamon rolls!” snarled the first. “What kind of food is that for a Giant Spider to eat?! Tell me, what kind of self-respecting Giant Spider would bother with any kind of sandwich or pastry?! STEW is what we shall make out of her and we don’t need sweets!”
“Don’t get greedy with me!” snapped the second. “I can make enough cinnamon rolls for all of us! Besides, we only need her arms and legs to make the subs!”
“It’s nothing to do with greed, it’s a matter of principle!” argued the first. “I’m only trying to protect your reputation!”
“You mean YOUR reputation!” countered the second.
“Have you no pride?!” snapped the first.
“Oh, please,” groaned the second.
“Giant Spiders do NOT eat subs or cinnamon rolls!” insisted the first.
“What would you know about Giant Spider feeding habits?!” snapped the second.
“What’s THAT supposed to…?!” snarled the first.
“Hey, did we order our dinner to go?” asked the third, grabbing their attention.
“No, why?” asked the first.
“Then WHERE’D SHE GO?!” yelped the third. Sorsha had taken off during the argument.
“…WHY DIDN’T YOU IDIOTS STOP ME?!” roared the first.
“Why should we?” asked the second. “You’re SO smart!”
“Why I oughta…COME HERE!” The first lunged at the second and the two locked their legs to try and score a blow onto the other. The third just rolled its eyes and looked out to the ocean, waiting for his friends to exhaust themselves.