The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

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It was meeting time again. The broadcast had shaken people up across the Realms, so the time for action was NOW. Everyone announced their attendance and Elgrad began. “Everyone, we lost a friend during this summit. A friend and a valuable ally when it came to dealing with the Splitters. During our second meeting, Jeefef said that her killing a top citizen would be what we should call the first shot. Well, Dr. Borg took that shot. The question now becomes, what do we do to announce that she started the Final War?”

“I have an idea,” called Orbak. He then pulled out what he wrote last night and the silver quill, then set them onto the table.

“…A Blood Contract, Daddy?” asked Malnar.

“I wrote it last night,” explained Orbak. “We need to show the people that we’re willing to lay down our lives for the Realms.”

“And you think that making such a contract will ensure that?” asked Olmarfa.

“With all my heart.”

“Then let’s sign,” called Rokalla.

“No, not you, not our heirs,” declared Elgrad.

“Excuse me?!” protested Arsha.

“Arsha, we’re not losing our children to war!” declared Elgrad.

“Daddy, that’s not your decision to make!”

“I can’t lose my only daughter!”

“Daddy, if Oyed wins, you’d lose me anyways! At least, with this, there’s a chance I’ll still come back to you!”

“I’m siding with Arsha here,” called Lardeth.

“No!” called Feymay. “I’m not losing you! Not after I’ve carried you in my womb!”

“Mama Feymay, with all due respect, that’s not your call. I must show our Realm that I will protect it by any means necessary.”

“Malnar, you’re not agreeing to this, are you?!” barked Elmpam.

“I’m signing that thing, and you ain’t stopping me!” declared Malnar.

“Guys, the Realms are our homes too,” insisted Arsha. “Like it or not, we DO have a stake in this.” Elgrad looked at his daughter, then sighed.

“All those in favor of signing a Blood Contract, even our kids, say Aye.”

“Aye!” called everyone.

“Against?” No one responded. “Then, tonight, we sign the Blood Contract. Tomorrow morning, the Final War begins. This concludes the All-realm Royal Summit of Year 4,006,300,080.” Rokalla ended the recording and sighed.

A fire was lit in a fire pit behind the Royanas’ castle. Everyone gathered around it in their armor or duty uniforms. A podium stood nearby with the Blood Contract and quill waiting for signatures. Orbak took the podium and began. “Blood has been spilled and it must be avenged. Through this vow, we affirm our vengeance against our enemies.” He then read the contract. “We, the Undersigned, hereby declare, in our blood, the following vow: vengeance will be wrought on the Realm Trinity Empire via its destruction. If any of us attempt to break this vow, our life is forfeit.” He then held the quill out. “Who will begin?”

“I will,” called Feymay. She then took the quill, pricked her left finger with it, then signed her name on the contract. Emfam then took the quill, pricked her finger, and signed. Thus it went, from Lardeth, to Roomef, to Jeefef, to Olmarfa, to Ufnamfa, to Teefmanam, to Pofomofo, to Endram, to Elgrad, to Arsha, to Hanako, to Orbak, to Malnar, and finally to Elmpam. Orbak then took the Contract and held it to the sky.

“I hereby swear the oath proclaimed here, with both mortal and Divine witnesses! Vengeance on the Realm Trinity Empire!”

“Vengeance on the Realm Trinity Empire!” everyone repeated. Orbak then rolled up the contract and dropped it into the fire. As it was consumed by the flames, everyone doubled over in pain, grasping the hand that they signed with. The pain subsided and they released their hands. Scarred on the back of each hand was their signature.

“Now you see why we don’t sign a Blood Contract willy-nilly,” panted Malnar.

The next day, Dr. Borg and her spouses woke up. Dr. Borg reattached her limbs and threw her clothes on, Remsu put her top and gloves on as she arranged her clouds into their usual shapes before setting her hairpiece onto the cloud on her hair, Tensam set his veil onto his head, and Shefarn attached his thumb before he and Tensam entered their water chairs. “What say we get some breakfast?” suggested Remsu.

“Capital idea, my love,” purred Tensam.

“Yummy, more breakfast rations,” muttered Shefarn.

“Better get used to it,” advised Remsu. “If the Final War starts now, rations are gonna be breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a while.” They left their bedroom and made their way to the mess hall. They got their breakfast and sat down to eat. “You know, one would think,” Remsu mused, “that Yamta’s actions would spur the Realms into fighting us.”

“One would think, yeah,” remarked Dr. Borg. “But all we got was the disbanding of the Crimson Diamonds and Calandra taking the Galdredan Throne.”

“And getting a fancy hat out of the deal,” chuckled Tensam.

“Discussing the apparent apathy of the Realms?” asked Oyed’s voice as he appeared in the seat next to them.

“As a matter of fact, My Lord, yes,” answered Shefarn.

“I must say, I’m a little disappointed that not even my children are taking action,” mused Oyed. “I mean, Yamta’s idea had merit. Where did we go wrong?”

“Dr. Borg!” called Rochak’s voice as he burst into the mess hall. “Dr. Borg, why aren’t you spurring us into action?!”

“…Why would I wish to?” asked Dr. Borg.

“…Didn’t you see the news?!” protested Rochak.

“We just got up and had breakfast,” answered Remsu. “What’s going on?” Rochak turned on a viewing screen, displaying Orbak, Elgrad, Arsha, and Emfam in full armor, looking fierce.

“What in all the Realms?” asked Tensam.

“We’re speaking to you all,” began Elgrad, “from the Central Crier’s Square in the Mid-realm’s capital of Largandra.” He took a breath before continuing. “Since her cheating of death via artificial means was revealed, Dr. Cytanek Yavenag Borg has continually harmed the Realms, going so far as to speak to Oyed and create Revenants. We had constantly warned her that, unless we had evidence, physical evidence, that she would cease her actions, a state of war would exist between the Combined Realm Governments and her Realm Trinity Empire.”

Termaf, Yunfeen, and Tufarmem hugged each other close as the broadcast went on. “In response,” Emfam supplied, “she sent one of her minions to assassinate Queen Andwayla Narven of the Under-realm’s Galdredan Lava Kingdom to demonstrate her displeasure of our methods to remove the Splitter threat. Not only did she harm a good friend of mine, not only did she also attack Rellmeer and force the Crimson Diamonds to disband, but she did so in the Mid-realm and in Oyed’s. She has attacked all three of us and the Divine Ones that breathed life into her ancestors.”

Enfanti looked like she was about to cry as she and Delga watched the broadcast. “Last night,” continued Orbak, “we all gathered for a final meeting…and decided that enough was enough. Andwayla Narven will be avenged with the destruction of Dr. Borg’s organization. People of the Three Realms, it is our solemn and heartbreaking duty to inform you…we hereby declare war on the Realm Trinity Empire. The Final War has begun.”

Falnii sobbed into Foresna’s shoulders as Gorfanth ran his hand down his face in frustration. “This decision wasn’t made lightly,” Elgrad went on. “We never wanted to see the Final War in our lifetime. Still, if we must fight Oyed now, then fight we must, for our survival depends on it. Despair not, for there IS a ray of light on the horizon. The Divine Ones had revealed their own Blood Contract to us that they would take an active role in this war and assist us on the front lines.”

“WHAT?!” shouted Oyed as the declaration reached his ears.

“The Divine Ones,” explained Elgrad, “know more about Oyed than we do. Their joining us will ensure victory for us! My daughter has one of them aboard her ship, ready to serve as is their duty.” He stepped back and allowed Arsha to speak.

Arsha’s Senior Staff now had Lord Mordek, one of the Red Divine Ones of Fire. They watched from the conference room. “Too long have we allowed the Realms to endure Dr. Borg’s machinations,” began Arsha. “Time and again, we’ve defeated her, but we’ve exacted no retribution, demanded no remuneration. …What have we gained for our attempts at peace with her? More death, more intrigue, more senseless violence!” She drew in a breath to calm herself before continuing. “As someone who will fight to protect her future as the Mid-realm’s Queen, heed me. No longer will I attempt to treat with Dr. Borg. No longer will I simply defend the Realms. As per the vow I have taken last night, I will seek out and destroy all who threaten the Realms’ peaceful future. No mercy will be shown, no quarter given!”

Back in Plunder Island Stronghold’s mess hall, Dr. Borg and her allies observed Arsha showing the back of her palm. “Dr. Borg, if you’re watching this, then go ahead and enhance the image on the back of my hand. You will find my signature scarred into it. We all signed a Blood Contract, declaring that you WILL be destroyed! Oyed, you most likely assumed that your children wouldn’t be involved. …That will be a fatal mistake for you!” The broadcast then ended.

“My children aren’t going to sit this one out?!” growled Oyed. “They would dare get their hands dirty?! They’ll upend everything! We need to get started!”

“Rochak,” called Dr. Borg, “I want our soldiers armed and ready to march by week’s end.”

“But, Doctor,” protested Rochak, “there are too many! They can’t all be armed in time; we don’t have the means!”

“Build more dams,” ordered Dr. Borg, “block all the streams, work the forges night and day!”

“We don’t have enough fuel to feed the fires!”

“Doesn’t this stronghold rest at the edge of a jungle?”


“Burn it!”

“…At once.” Rochak then took off to carry out his orders.

“If you will excuse me,” rumbled Oyed, “I must see to my own weapons.” He vanished in a cloud of smoke, leaving only Dr. Borg and her spouses. They all looked at each other, then grinned.

“Oh, when the stars align!” purred Dr. Borg.

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Another day, another meeting for the Royals. This meeting was centered around how to divvy up those in attendance for each suggestion for keeping the people calm. “It looks like there are five categories for us to play with,” remarked Elgrad. “The way I see it, we can make teams based on each category and organize people based on them. I’ve only got one suggestion of a list, so if there are any more, put them forward.”

“I might have an idea,” called Jeefef. “Why not have each person who suggested their idea be a part of the categories each one fell under? How did you categorize them?”

“There’s the general category, which has Feymay, Hanako, and Orbak’s suggestions,” replied Elgrad, “the volunteer category, which consists of Emfam, Ufnamfa, and Pofomofo’s ideas; the tour category, consisting of Arsha and Lardeth’s ideas; the entertainment category, with Roomef, Olmarfa, Teefmanam, and Malnar’s suggestions; and home life, made up of Jeefef, Endram, Elmpam, and my suggestions.”

“Then I think we have a clear idea of how to form the teams already,” declared Jeefef.

“Gotta admit, the formation makes sense,” mused Lardeth.

“I’m down with that,” agreed Elmpam.

“Can I suggest something?” called Arsha.

“What is it?” asked Hanako.

“Yes, the idea is that these ideas can be used to calm people before the Final War starts,” explained Arsha, “but couldn’t they also be used at war’s end? If and when we win and begin reconstruction, I want these ideas to be put into effect as part of the reconstruction plan.”

“…You know, I think that’s a good idea,” remarked Roomef.

“All those in favor of doing this in reconstruction, say Aye,” called Elgrad.

“Aye,” called the room.

“Against?” No one responded to Elgrad’s question. “Sounds unanimous. Okay, then the next vote is to see if we should go ahead with the formation. All in favor?”


“Against?” Silence again. “Then we’ve got our teams. I trust everyone will…” Domesta then burst into the room.

“Your Majesty! Come quick!” she called.

“Domesta, what’s going on?” asked Arsha. “Why are you panicked?”

“Because Queen Andwayla Narven is dead!” Domesta’s news echoed in their ears.

“…That’s…that’s impossible!” breathed Arsha.

It was VERY possible. Andwayla’s body was lying on a mortuary slab while doctors tended to Calandra, Rellmeer, and the Crimson Diamonds’ Staff. Calandra couldn’t speak, she was so grief-stricken, so Rellmeer, as she took an eye restoration potion, explained the whole incident to the Royals and Elmar. As she spoke, a pair of Nagas continued fixing any wounds, changing any bandages and mixing up potion doses.

“It’s time for another dose,” advised the woman Naga, Dr. Mika Erad. “Daren, how go her vitals?”

“They’re climbing to normal standards,” reported her husband, Dr. Daren Erad.

“So, Crimson Diamond techniques were used against you all,” muttered Elgrad. Calandra then turned to Headmistress Tanfa, her gaze turning from sadness…to rage. She leapt off her bed and pounced on Tanfa, beating on her in fury! She then picked the old woman up off the bed and slammed her against the wall repeatedly.

“THIS IS YOUR FAULT!” she shrieked. “YOU TRAINED THAT PSYCHO! YOU LET MOTHER DIE!” Her hands then went around Tanfa’s throat and squeezed!

“That’s enough!” called Elmar as he grabbed her arms and pulled her off.

“LET GO! LET GO!” roared Calandra. Elmar refused to let go, keeping his grip as Calandra flailed and howled in rage and grief. Tanfa coughed as she regained her breath.

“She’s not wrong,” remarked Elgrad. “You should have screened her more carefully.”

“She passed the Initiation Test!” gasped Tanfa as she pulled herself up.

“And you didn’t think to check her mental health? Her morals?”

“There’s hardly anything moral about assassination!”

“You’ve just justified my position. The Crimson Diamonds must disband as you’ve allowed someone like her to exist.”

“If we disband, you won’t be able to learn our secrets!”

“We’ve all received your school’s instruction in some capacity, I think we can easily add assassination avoidance to Realmfleet Academy’s curriculum. Your staff is to seek new work outside of assassination and your students will find new means of schooling.”

“Please, show leniency! Yamta never gave us any reason to consider her an enemy until her last days!”

“Your mistake!”

“Your Majesty…!”

“Your King has spoken!” Tanfa’s arguments died in her throat. She then looked at Calandra who had stopped thrashing against Elmar’s grip and simply contented herself to look at Tanfa in fury. Tanfa declined her head and sighed before she took out a paper and signed her name to it. She handed it to Elgrad, and he read it. It was a paper affirming that the Crimson Diamonds would disband and avoid assassination work.

“Your Majesties,” called Dr. Mika, “you need to see this.” She pointed to one of the screens. On it was Dr. Borg as she gave a speech.

“For too long, the Realms have sunken to chaos,” she proclaimed. “Time and again, we’ve all tried to enforce order, but the rulers are content to let us squabble while they waste time and money on crude law enforcement methods. Well, the Realm Trinity Empire has had enough. We’re going to see the Realms change one way or another. Andwayla’s death is only the example of what happens when you waste our time!” The broadcast then ended, leaving the room silent.

After she was healed, Calandra started packing her things. Andwayla’s body was returned to the Galdredan Lava Kingdom to be interred the day after Calandra returned. Like it or not, she had to ascend to the throne and become Queen. She heard the door chime. “Come in,” she called. Elmar stepped into the room.

“You’re not facing this alone,” he insisted.

“Elmar, the Endeavor needs you.”

“I need to be there for my wife!”

“And don’t think, for a second, that I don’t appreciate it! Believe me, I do! …But the Endeavor needs its Chief Science Officer and Arsha needs all hands on deck.” Elmar shut his eyes in frustration. “…Could you at least accompany me at the Coronation?”

“I would be honored.”

Andwayla’s body was interred at the Royal Tomb, next to her husband’s. A day after the Funeral, the Coronation was set up. The Throne room was lined with people, the aisle to the Throne remaining empty. At the Throne were Calandra’s siblings and a Priest. The trumpets sounded and the doors opened, revealing Calandra and Elmar in new outfits. They walked down the aisle, Calandra holding Elmar’s arm all the while, and approached the Throne. The Priest then held out the Codex, the religious book for the Realms, and Calandra placed one hand on it while the other covered her heart. “I, Calandra Narven, do solemnly swear,” began the Priest.

“I, Calandra Narven, do solemnly swear,” repeated Calandra.

“That I will execute my duties as Queen of the Galdredan Lava Kingdom faithfully.”

“That I will execute my duties as Queen of the Galdredan Lava Kingdom faithfully.”

“I will uphold the laws and dreams of my people.”

“I will uphold the laws and dreams of my people.”

“I will care for those that are in dire straits.”

“I will care for those that are in dire straits.”

“With the help of the Divine Ones, I will not let evil corrupt my judgement.”

“With the help of the Divine Ones, I will not let evil corrupt my judgement.”

“If necessary…” the Priest faltered before continuing, “I will give my life to save my people, should disaster strike.”

“If necessary, I will give my life to save my people, should disaster strike.” The Priest then turned to Elmar.

“I, Elmar Narven, do solemnly swear,”

“I, Elmar Narven, do solemnly swear,”

“That I will execute my duties as King of the Galdredan Lava Kingdom faithfully.”

“That I will execute my duties as King of the Galdredan Lava Kingdom faithfully.”

“I will uphold the laws and dreams of my people.”

“I will uphold the laws and dreams of my people.”

“I will care for those that are in dire straits.”

“I will care for those that are in dire straits.”

“With the help of the Divine Ones, I will not let evil corrupt my judgement.”

“With the help of the Divine Ones, I will not let evil corrupt my judgement.”

“If necessary, I will give my life to save my people, should disaster strike.”

“If necessary, I will give my life to save my people, should disaster strike.” The Priest then stepped back and Calandra and Elmar sat down on the Throne.

“I hereby pronounce Calandra and Elmar Narven the Rulers of the Galdredan Lava Kingdom!” The crowd applauded as the two waved. Calandra then stood up for her speech.

“My beloved people,” she began, “this…this moment came from something sad. I am aware of my mother’s reputation for being headstrong and getting ridiculous ideas in her head, I frequently tried to stop her…keyword being ‘try’. Now…now I wish she were here with an idea. I will miss her greatly, as will those who loved her. She DID give us a method against Splitters that, despite Dr. Borg’s insistence, proved effective both in money AND time. Dr. Borg has proven that, while she has smarts, she doesn’t exactly think long-term. Well, we all have goals in mind that extend beyond my own reign, and, with everyone’s help, they will be fulfilled. Now, unfortunately, Elmar’s job still isn’t done. He’ll be going back to the Endeavor to help Arsha and her ship so they, like us, can teach Dr. Borg a lesson. She has told me that having a friend of hers get wounded or die in her own Realm is a stain on her pride and she’s angry enough to help us as we will help the Realms. My King…good luck and hurry back.”

“As soon as I’m able, My Queen,” promised Elmar. They kissed, then Elmar walked back down the aisle and left. The people followed and Calandra sat on the Throne again.

“…First order of business, get the kingdom’s security up to scratch,” she declared.

Back in the Royanas’ castle, Orbak fiddled with a silver quill, contemplating his next move. What he was going to suggest was bold, but it would unite his fellows under a common purpose. “…Right, I’ll do it,” he declared to himself. He pulled out a piece of parchment and started writing a Blood Contract.

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Over on the Endeavor, Calandra snored, her arms wrapped around Elmar as they lay in bed. A buzzer then sounded, waking them up. It was quiet, but it was enough to cause them to stir. The buzzer sounded again. “Mhm, who is i…” Calandra’s sentence was interrupted by the door opening.

“GOOD MORNING, CALANDRA SWEEEEEEYIKES!” It was Andwayla! She immediately turned her back as Elmar and Calandra yelped, pulling the sheets over their chests.

“Your Majesty! Bedroom!” protested Elmar.

“There is a RULE about the bedroom!” snarled Calandra.

“What are you even doing here?!” continued Elmar.

“A conference of my own,” explained Andwayla as she kept her back turned. “Headmistress Tanfa is stepping down and wants help in finding a successor.”

“You didn’t add MY name to the list of candidates, did you?” asked Calandra.

“Oh, Heights, no! I’m not letting my sweet daughter stress herself out like that. You’ve got enough coming up as the heir to the Galdredan Throne.”

“You didn’t…?”

“Same issue here, I’ve got too much on my plate as Queen.”

“So why are you onboard?”

“Because I told Headmistress Tanfa that you and I would be witnesses, along with Rellmeer, since Orbak is busy.”

“…You can’t be serious!”

Andwayla had her way and she, Rellmeer, and Calandra were in a meeting room with elderly people sitting around a table. What was Tanfa Headmistress of, you ask? Why, none other than the Crimson Diamonds, the Assassin’s School. She was getting on in years and decided that it was time for her to step down. This, of course, caused a stir with the School’s Staff as Tanfa was the best Headmistress in the school’s history. By tradition, a student had to take her place. Out with the old, in with the new, was the School’s policy. A large cauldron sat in the center as pieces of paper with students’ names on them were being pulled out and sorted into piles of varying heights. The papers were then sorted, and the Gym Teacher began her explanation of the piles. “This stack,” she began with a large stack, “has a lot of smart people when it comes to general studies, but no records of contracts. This one here,” the pile was smaller than the first, “the candidates are impressively stupid, but can manage a kill or two. These guys are okay,” the stack was smaller, “and these guys,” the pile only consisted of a small pieces of paper, “are the best of the best, so they won’t waste too much of your valuable time.”

“What about that pile right there?” asked Calandra as she pointed to a massive pile on the floor.

“They’re the lame-brains,” explained the History Teacher, “who couldn’t tie their shoes even if the instructions were spelled out. Which reminds me, we need to pare down the student population a bit. I think ousting them before you go, Headmistress, would be prudent. Give the Successor a better chance to raise better Assassins.”

“Headmistress,” remarked the Dean, “it’s nice of you to give everyone a chance, but…well, why not just take our suggestions?”

“Even among them,” remarked Rellmeer, “there won’t be anyone to replace a Headmistress like yourself.”

“No one is irreplaceable,” dismissed Tanfa.

“On that, I couldn’t agree more,” remarked a strange voice. Everyone turned to the door to see an armored figure with a helmet obscuring their features. “Well, well, well, how are things?” purred the figure.

“Yamta?!” yelped the Secretary.

“Oh, you know who I am?” sighed the figure as they removed their helmet to reveal it was, indeed, Yamta. “A pity, I rather hoped you were ignorant of my usual appearance. Oh well, them’s the breaks. How IS the staff of my Alma Mater? Long time, no see. Have you discovered how Oltor killed with his voice or are you still doing your research? I must say, it’s rather hard to complete it now that he’s dead. Thanks for sparing us the trouble, by the way, Rellmeer. You and your fellow Over-realm Royals did us a service. Pity we had to do most of the leg-work with the other Splitter Branches.”

“We didn’t kill him for your organization’s sake!” snarled Rellmeer. “And the Splitters were OURS to execute, not yours!”

“With methods that took too much time and money?” Yamta’s gaze went to Andwayla as she posed the question.

“At least they were effective and made it so no one feared us, unlike YOUR methods!” snarled Andwayla. Yamta rolled her eyes.

“Yamta Velonar,” snarled the Dean, “how dare you come back to us after all this time!”

“‘After all this time’?” chuckled Yamta. “Oh please, you could be a bit more…how did my fourth level teacher put it…flexible.”


“Well, not physically. Don’t bust your backs, Old timers!” Yamta giggled at her crass joke. “…Not a single person to offer me a goblet of wine?” She then heard someone pouring liquid into a container and shifted her gaze to the Math teacher pouring himself some wine. He then gave a smarmy look to her and raised the glass to his lips. Yamta then dashed towards the Math teacher, made a magic orb, had it circle the air in front of his eyes, and stared intensely through the circling orb. The Math teacher’s expression then slowly turned from confusion to vacant. He was motionless as Yamta took the goblet from his hand and sipped the wine.

“You’ve got some nerve,” snarled Rellmeer, “using Fae-based Hypnosis here! How did you get that secret?! Dr. Borg isn’t so generous!”

“She is when she’s got a scientific marvel to study. She wanted to know how I made my old helmet and wanted to improve it.” Yamta then looked at everyone. “Oh, don’t panic. This kind of hypnosis only works on the most pliable minds or willing subjects.”

“What do you want from us?!” Rellmeer snapped her fingers under the Math teacher’s nose, snapping him out of his trance. He then looked for his goblet and then followed Rellmeer’s finger to see Yamta sipping from it, then tossing it over her shoulder.

“From you, Empress? Nothing. I’ve got a contract, but I thought I’d get a distraction out of the way. I’ve come to apply as a successor.”

“Successor?!” snarled the Math teacher. “Successor to what?!”

“To WHOM is the accurate question. And I’m talking about the Great Headmistress Tanfa. Isn’t that the order of the day?”

“You?!” protested Calandra. “Is this a joke?!”

“Your degree was revoked,” reminded the Poisons teacher, “after the unmitigated disaster that was the previous Headmaster!”

“You think Headmistress Tanfa will hand the Crimson Diamonds over to you?!” called the History teacher.

“You can’t be serious!” snapped the Dean. As the objections were hurled at her, Yamta strode towards Tanfa.

“What’s the matter, my dear Headmistress? Feeling your age now? Thought you were a ripe peach? I’d say you’re actually an overripe banana! It’s finally taken you all this time to realize you’re not so special after all! That’s it’s time to stand down!”

“Tanfa is, by far, the best of us!” snapped the Dean.

“Better than you lot, yes. But I was voted the Greatest Assassin of the Age, or have you forgotten? I won’t be shackled by your ridiculous form of morality, for I would teach future assassins that a contract is a contract, regardless of status, instead of watering down everyone’s skills to mere vigilantism! That kind of power, given to only the best of the best, is our one chance to actually achieve peace! Warmongers would be afraid of us! …But our celebrated Tanfa is after a good little student who does what they’re told, a model apprentice she can mold in her image, into a selfish rogue like herself!” At that remark, Tanfa simply splashed the contents of her own goblet onto Yamta’s face. “…Application rejected, I take it? Oh well, just thought I’d throw the idea out there.” She then drew her spikes and leveled them at Andwayla. “Better get the contract out of the way.”

“NO!” roared Rellmeer as she flew towards Yamta. Yamta ducked, forcing Rellmeer to fly over her and crash into Tanfa. Calandra, Andwayla, and the Staff drew knives and rushed at her. Yamta dodged the blows and used her spikes to dispatch them. She targeted non-vital areas on the Staff. As they lay groaning, Rellmeer got up and leapt at Yamta again. Yamta then swung a spike at Rellmeer’s eyes.

“MY EYES!” cried Rellmeer as she collapsed to the floor and shrank to her usual height, her hand over her now bleeding eyes. Yamta then stabbed Calandra in the shoulder. She cried out in pain and collapsed to the floor.

“That’s too far!” roared Andwayla. She swung her knife, still using her skills. For a while, both combatants were evenly matched.

“I admire how you are ready to avenge your daughter’s wounding,” remarked Yamta. “Sadly, I have a contract to complete.” She then took out a spike and…ran it up through Andwayla’s rib cage, on the right side of the chest, where a Fire Demon’s heart is located. Andwayla gasped as the air was forced out of her lungs. She looked down at the spike in her body, then collapsed to the floor, trying to pull it out. Sadly, it was no use. Her movements became feebler until…she stopped entirely. Queen Andwayla Narven, ruler of the Galdredan Lava Kingdom was dead. Yamta then activated a personal Realmgate and disappeared into it as Calandra regained consciousness. She saw her mother’s body and crawled to her. When she got there, she finally saw the wound.

“…No!” she pleaded. “No, please! No! No!” She then cradled her mother’s body and sobbed before throwing her head back. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Her body was then wracked with loud sobbing and wailing as she held her mother tight to her.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

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Rokalla stirred from the bed and yawned. He rubbed her eyes and smacked his lips before climbing over his lovers and moving to the center of the room. He then changed into a pair of pants and a simple sleeveless top before he stretched his shoulders. He then started her yoga routine, Mountain pose, plank, hero, both Warrior poses, tree, and child for his final pose. He then went into the bathroom to get himself ready. His lovers soon woke up and joined him. They went through the whole Orc hygiene routine, shower, deodorant, and teeth, especially the tusks. Despite the messy appearance of their hair, Orcs are very hygiene conscious. This was drilled into their society when they founded Realmgate City. When the first soldiers tried out showers, they felt better about themselves and could fight more effectively, without worrying about any other bodily baggage. That became part of their philosophy really quick and they soon became the standard bearers for good grooming, even going so far as to be as clean as the Over-realm’s Vorkath. After their routine, the Orcs began dressing themselves. They heard a knock on the door. “Yes?” called Rokalla.

“Breakfast is being served in the main dining hall,” replied a butler.

“Be there in a second!” declared Rokalla as he adjusted his pauldrons. He then heard a grunting from Jamula.

“Come…on!” she growled as she tried to fasten her top.

“Allow me,” offered Herksher. He then fastened the top for her. She then adjusted it so she could breathe.

“There we go,” she sighed happily. “Thank you, Master!”

“Anything for you, Sweet Tusk,” replied Herksher. The Orcs then left the room and followed the butler to the main dining hall. Everyone sat down and were served their breakfast.

“My word, this is delicious!” chuckled Ufnamfa. “It’s actually more so than yesterday!”

“Well, Dumarith recovered from his cold,” replied Elgrad, “so it’s back to the husband and wife cooking routine for him and Domesta.”

“I still can’t believe it,” mused Rokalla. “Two Genies as a married couple.”

“Where IS the happy couple?” asked Olmarfa.

“Right here,” replied Domesta’s voice as she and Dumarith floated in with their own plates of food.

“You look good today, Dumarith,” observed Hanako.

“I FEEL good, Your Majesty,” declared Dumarith as he helped Domesta to her seat. He then sat down as Bermak arched an eyebrow. Orbak observed that.

“What?” he asked. “It’s not uncommon for staff members to share their meals with us Royals.”

“Really?” asked Bermak.

“Really,” confirmed Emfam. “We’re all appreciative of them, so why not have them join us?”

“I guess I never saw the staff outside of a banquet,” mused Bermak. Elgrad then got a good look at Orbak’s face and gasped.

“You didn’t?!” he yelped as he pointed to Orbak’s lip. Endram followed the finger and gasped.

“That thing’s more trouble than it’s worth!” answered Orbak as he ran his face down his bare face.

“Honestly, he looks better without facial hair,” remarked Elmpam appreciatively.

“You see?” asked Orbak as he beamed with pride. Hanako and the Over-realm Queens then looked at their Kings.

“…Oh no, you don’t!” yelped Elgrad as he shielded his beard.

“Mine’s staying!” snapped Endram.

“Oh well, girls,” sighed Jeefef. “We tried.”

“Hey, Foresna,” called Elgrad, changing the subject, “when are you going to your sister’s wedding?”

“After lunch,” answered Foresna. “Gonna help a bit before the big day tomorrow.”

“Make sure you tell us all about it when you come back,” advised Arsha.

“Don’t worry, I will,” promised Foresna.

After breakfast, Jamula and her masters went clothes-shopping for her. There was a store that sold harem outfits and could make alterations for any other outfits. After getting her clothes altered to fit her, she got a few new outfits. She was skipping out of the tailor’s shop, giggling in happiness. She wasn’t going to give up her outfits just yet. “No cares in your head?” asked Rokalla teasingly.

“Not at the moment, no,” replied Jamula. “I’m sure the Final War’s far off, anyway. They’d have to be stupid to attack us now!”

“Careful,” warned Prormerk. “That could be our downfall.”

“You are such a gloomy guy, Prormerk!” remarked Bermak. “Look, if we stay optimistic, that could give us an edge in morale and fighting spirit!”

“He has a point,” remarked Rokalla.

When the Orcs returned and had lunch with everyone, the Royals and Rokalla returned to the Conference Hall. Everyone announced that they were in attendance and Rokalla began recording. “Yesterday, before adjourning,” reminded Elgrad, “we had a bit of trouble in figuring out how to help people out to keep their spirits up. I trust we all have ideas?” Everyone gave noises of confirmation. “Then each of us will put an idea forward and we can plan around it. We’ll go in order of when we announced our attendance. Feymay, please start us off.”

“We should get into agriculture more,” she suggested. “The farmers will understand that we want to know how hard growing food is. It might teach us all some valuable skills.”

“I was thinking,” offered Emfam, “we should build up historical sites. The people want to know more about history.”

“The citizens need to know that soldiers are people just like them,” suggested Lardeth. “Maybe affordable, secure tours of a base would help.”

“The people also want to have some form of escape from their toils,” called Roomef. “Why not teach people how to entertain?”

“If there are any who need help in organizing their lives,” offered Jeefef, “then helping them on that front will do so.”

“There are people who feel like they can’t make it in entertainment,” remarked Olmarfa, “because they’re not good singers or speakers. I was thinking of helping people gain confidence through their movements.”

“Railways are always in need of people, especially heritage railways,” called Ufnamfa. “We should help out on local heritage railways.”

“The Live-streamers always look up games people like,” recalled Teefmanam. “Maybe we should do some live-streaming ourselves. I can certainly help you guys out on that front.”

“Local museums are as eager for volunteers as heritage railways,” offered Pofomofo. “Maybe we can assist in maintaining artefacts.”

“There’s also the homeless villages,” replied Endram. “We need to make sure the people living there have actual roofs over their heads. Perhaps aiding in home improvements will make sure they’re living comfortably.”

“There’s also people who can’t get a job, despite their best efforts,” reminded Elgrad. “We need to make sure they aren’t turned away simply because they’re homeless, so educating the public in that regard will help.”

“The people also want to see how a skyship functions, despite not wanting to join Realmfleet,” mused Arsha. “I’d say a secure skyship tour will help in that regard.”

“Our citizens will be scared if we tighten security,” observed Hanako. “We need to assure them that it’s for their protection in ways that won’t go too far. Need I remind you all of the Great Criminal Scare? Our predecessors went nearly totalitarian.”

“I may have a solution to that,” called Orbak. “We need to show the people that law enforcement IS on their side, so we need to encourage our officers to be more at ease when off-duty and get them to work at the other suggestions made here.”

“I’m saying this because I’m surprised Feymay didn’t,” mused Malnar. “We should also encourage art forms of all types, painting, writing, drawing, speaking, all that stuff needs more funding. If we give an image to Dr. Borg that our people still find pleasure despite a threat looming, she’s sure to make a mistake in anger.”

“And, as someone who’s an All-Priestess,” finished Elmpam, “I suggest we encourage people to find faith in the suggestions here. The Divine Ones encourage us to always branch out, so we must do so in their name.”

“That…wow,” muttered Rokalla. “That’s a lot of suggestions.”

“Upon further observation,” called Lardeth, “it looks like there are a few categories that can group multiple suggestions together. The only reason I objected to helping people yesterday is because I thought that would paint a target on our backs, but it seems I needed to learn that there are multiple ways to help and pursuing those avenues would actually spread her forces too thin.”

“My thinking exactly,” remarked Orbak. “You know, now that I think about it, those suggestions can easily apply to war’s end if we win.”

“WHEN we win,” corrected Arsha. “If the Final War starts now, I’m gonna do everything in my power to make sure we win, as I know the rest of us do.”

“That’s my girl!” praised Elgrad.

As the Royals talked in the Mid-realm, Yamta poured over the plans of the Narvens’ castle again. For someone with minimal security, there were a lot of traps to avoid that assassination didn’t seem to cut it. As she looked again to find something, ANYTHING to exploit, a notification appeared on her computer. She checked it and read the news article that was sent to her. As she read it, her eyes went wide. When she finished…she grinned! Her attempt just became a lot easier and it would help her kill two birds with one stone.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-32

Elmpam stirred in the Emboramiis’ room, rolling over to her side to see that her husband was absent. She woke up fully and sat up. “Orbak?” she called.

“In the bathroom, sweetie,” called Orbak’s voice. Elmpam then sighed in relief and got out of bed, joining him in their bathroom. Orbak was looking himself in the mirror. “Elmpam, we need to discuss my mustache.”

“I’ll say,” muttered Elmpam. “I’m supposed to be the one with furry lips here.”

“No kidding.” Orbak scratched his lip. “This thing’s itchy and I swear I saw yesterday’s food in it!”

“So, shave it off!”

“…I’m gonna give it ‘til tonight. After that, if I still feel the same as now, it’s gone.”

“…All right then. I can go with that. Now, we better get ready. Much as I like seeing your bare chest, we DO have something on the agenda involving other people.”

“Yep, better get started.” The two then got themselves dressed. They were halfway done when they heard a knock on the door. “Hello?” called Orbak.

“Breakfast is being served in the Main Dining Hall,” answered the maid outside.

“We’ll be out shortly,” replied Elmpam. After they put their clothes on, Elmpam fastened her hairpiece next to her ear and Orbak set his crown around his head. They then left the room and were escorted to the Main Dining Hall. The other Royals and the Borkshorms soon filed in and sat around the table with the Royanas and Arsha’s lovers at the head. Bacon, eggs, sausage, pancakes, and breakfast rolls were all laid out on the table.

“Mhm! Elgrad,” declared Bermak, “your staff are superb when it comes to…!”

“Master, don’t talk with your mouth full!” admonished Jamula. Bermak blushed a bit.

“It’s all right,” chuckled Elgrad. “I’ll make sure my kitchen staff hear of your appreciation, Mr. Borkshorm.”

“So, forgive me if I’m prying,” began Foresna, “but when are you guys going to meet again?”

“Same time as yesterday,” answered Elgrad.

“All right, just wanted to know. My sister’s been asking me to walk her down the aisle.”

“She’s getting married?” asked Arsha.

“In two days,” answered Foresna.

“Congratulations to the Bride, then!” wished Hanako. “Who’s her lucky partner?”

“Partners, Your Majesty,” replied Foresna. “An Orc man named Torsharko, a Sea Dragon woman named Ramsural, a Zephyr lady named Sumfem, and a Human woman named…well…Ars.”

“Oh, poor girl,” sighed Arsha. “Her name’s so short.”

“Arsha, there’s nothing wrong with being called Ars.”

“Maybe for you, but for me, it sounds so…soft, you know?”

“Yeah, well, that’s not HER view, is it?”

“…No, no, it’s not.”

“Well, good luck,” bid Elgrad. “Make sure to give them my best.”

“Will do, Your Majesty!” replied Foresna.

“Come on, it ain’t that bad!” protested Endram as he and Orbak held a less-important discussion.

“He’s right,” agreed Elgrad. “The mustache is a proud tradition, just like a beard!” He stroked his own for emphasis.

“How you put up with a perpetually scratchy chin is beyond me!” scoffed Orbak. “It looks like a caterpillar’s trying to weave its cocoon on me!”

“No, it doesn’t!” countered Elgrad.

“Orbak, you look great with a mustache!” urged Endram.

“I really don’t!” argued Orbak. “This thing catches more food than I thought possible! I swear, I could just run my tongue through it and have a ready snack! It’s gross!”

“Just be a little more thorough with cleaning your face!” answered Elgrad.

“It’s too much effort for me!”

“It ain’t THAT much effort!” remarked Endram.

“Wait, Elmpam didn’t protest, did she?” asked Elgrad.

“Not as hard as you think,” answered Orbak. “I was the one who voiced my own complaints about it to her this morning, so she felt no need to complain about it. I made a deal that if I still feel bad about this thing, then it’s shaved off tonight.”

“Oh, give it another day!” protested Endram.

“No, my mind is made up!” declared Orbak.

“…Fine, fine,” sighed Elgrad.

Everyone went about their day, then had lunch before the Royals and Rokalla went into the Conference Hall. “Over-Queen Feymay Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-Queen Emfam Felompha in attendance.”

“Crown Over-Prince Lardeth Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-Queen Roomef Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-Queen Jeefef Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-Queen Olmarfa Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-Queen Ufnamfa Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-Queen Teefmanam Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-Queen Pofomofo Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-King Endram Felompha in attendance.”

“Mid-King Elgrad Royana in attendance.”

“Crown Mid-Princess Arsha Royana in attendance.”

“Mid-Queen Hanako Royana in attendance.”

“Under-King Orbak Emboramii in attendance.”

“Crown Under-Princess Malnar Emboramii in attendance.”

“Under-Queen Elmpam Emboramii in attendance.”

“Third-Level Admiral Rokalla Borkshorm in attendance as witness.” Rokalla recorded the meeting again.

“Day two, everyone, let’s get talking,” declared Elgrad. “When we ended the last meeting, the question was how patient do we need to be before we call one of Dr. Borg’s moves the first strike?”

“Jeefef, you’re still an active military member,” called Elmpam. “What would you recommend?”

“There are three scenarios that would suit as a good first strike,” answered Jeefef. “Burning a farmer’s field, killing a top citizen, and stealing money from every citizen in a civilized area, even a village, they would be avenues to pursue.”

“Then the question becomes,” remarked Lardeth, “how do we keep the people from panicking until then?”

“Maybe we actively help them in their day-to-day lives?” suggested Malnar.

“I’m not so sure that’s a good idea,” winced Pofomofo. “That would make us easy targets.

“Not if we use cloaking spells and disguises,” replied Malnar.

“She’s right,” mused Olmarfa. “If Dr. Borg is saying that we’re ineffective in keeping them safe, we need to see to it that we can keep them brave. What better way than to be more active in helping them? Besides, Dr. Borg may be smart, but she can’t anticipate everything.”

“She IS capable of being surprised,” remarked Arsha. “This would go against her simulations of us.”

“I say we put it to a vote,” called Ufnamfa.

“Agreed,” answered Elgrad. “All those who wish to go along with Malnar’s idea until a disaster that Jeefef gave examples of, say Aye.”

“Aye!” called Feymay, Emfam, Roomef, Olmarfa, Ufnamfa, Teefmanam, Elgrad, Arsha, Orbak, and Malnar.

“And against?” asked Elgrad.

“Nay!” replied Lardeth, Jeefef, Pofomofo, Endram, Hanako, and Elmpam. Arsha and Malnar stared wide-eyed at Lardeth.

“Rokalla, what’s the total?” inquired Elgrad.

“That’s ten votes for Aye and six votes for Nay,” reported Rokalla. “The Ayes have it.”

“Then we need to draft a plan to be more active in helping people,” declared Elgrad.

Speaking of drafting plans, Yamta was pouring over the plans for Castle Narven. She seemed a little distracted by something. As she worked, the door behind her opened. “Thought you could use some food,” called Remsu’s voice as she entered the room with a tray of food.

“Not hungry,” replied Yamta. Remsu set the food down on a table.

“Even assassins need to grow big and strong.”

“Don’t need food right now.”

“Yamta, you DO need food! You know I’m half Succubus, right? Lust Demons can smell when a person’s hungry about a por away.”


“Of course not! The mere fact you believed such a lie tells me you’re not thinking straight and need to eat!”

“I need to come up with a plan to…!”

“You’re waiting on Castle Security reports, remember?!” The silence hung in the air for a few moments. “Look, this is the perfect time for you to take care of yourself. Don’t let the future spin you up so bad.” Yamta stared in silence, then headed to the food tray. She then picked up the fork and started eating. “There we go. Isn’t that better?”

“Yeah, I guess,” muttered Yamta as she ate.

“Look, what’s wrong?”

“…I never really gained any admiration from my old classmates. All my life, I wanted to show everyone that there IS no reason to refuse contracts. Money is money. We’re not mercenaries! …But the Crimson Diamonds want to water assassination down. I ask you, is it really assassination if we can’t collect big scores?”

“No, just hired help.”

“It’s just…no Crimson Diamond’s killed a Royal since the First Age.”


“…Yeah, I am.”

“Well, starving yourself won’t do you any good.” Yamta nodded slightly and continued eating.

The meeting finished and everyone headed off to do their thing. “Lardeth, a word,” growled Arsha. Lardeth followed Arsha to somewhere private.

“We can’t afford to paint targets on our backs like that!” he hissed once they stopped and Arsha took out her hairpiece.

“You know Malnar wouldn’t suggest that,” replied Arsha, “unless she has several precautions laid out!”

“Precautions that any sap could undo if they had at least a shred of intelligence! Dr. Borg’s got that in spades!”

“She’s also very rigid in her thinking! We continue to help people despite disaster, she’ll slip up!”

“You sure of that?”

“I’ve fought her longer than anyone else in that room! Trust me, Malnar’s idea is the best we’ve got! What would you have done?”

“Tamper with her machines, for starters!”

“She’d figure that out a lot quicker than helping people through disasters!”

“That’s why we strike at random intervals!”

“Lardeth, she’d probably anticipate that!”

“Kids!” called another voice. It was Jeefef. “I trust you’re not debating on what was already decided?”

“Mama, you don’t like the idea any more than I do!” protested Lardeth.

“No, I don’t,” replied Jeefef, “but the decision’s been made and, like it or not, you are duty-bound to honor it. There will be NO further discussion on this, is that clear?”

“…Yeah, it’s clear,” grumbled Lardeth.

“Good,” declared Jeefef. “Now, I’m going to bed. You kids should do the same.” She then walked off.

“…I still say you’re supporting an unnecessary risk,” grunted Lardeth as he left.

“I DO know where he’s coming from,” remarked another voice. Arsha turned to see Elgrad. “I wouldn’t want your mother to paint a target on her back.”

“If I can play Destroyer’s Advocate for a minute, why did you agree with me? By that logic, you wouldn’t want Malnar hurt either.”

“Because I know Malnar, she’s a good planner and wouldn’t suggest something so risky unless she had back-up plans, much like you and your mother.”

“If only Lardeth would see it that way!”

“I think Jeefef’s given him reason to think and remember how she works.” Arsha thought for a minute, then smiled.

“She tends to do that. Though, I think Lardeth’s gonna take a little more time to accept it.”

“True, but that’s how he is.”

“Yep. Honestly, I wouldn’t have him any other way.”

“That’s my girl!” Elgrad then yawned. “I think we better go to bed.”

“No argument there. Good night, Daddy.”

“Good night, sweetie.” Arsha and Elgrad then went to their respective rooms.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-31

The Endeavor made it to Largandra. Elmpam was escorted by Arsha and her lovers to the Royana Castle. Elgrad and Hanako were outside the gates when they arrived. “Good to see you, Elmpam,” greeted Elgrad as they shook hands.

“Likewise,” returned Elmpam. “Has Orbak arrived yet?”

“Right here!” called Orbak’s voice. Everyone turned and…were surprised at Orbak’s current appearance. There was something new about him. “…Wh…what?” he asked.

“Nothing, sweetie,” replied Elmpam. “Just wanted to know when you decided to join the fire brigade.”

“Daddy, why do you have a mustache?” asked Malnar.

“Just trying something out,” replied Orbak.

“Has it started?!” called Emfam’s voice.

“Not yet,” replied Elgrad as the Felomphas arrived. “We’re gonna do lunch, then we talk.”

“Good idea,” chuckled Ufnamfa. “I could use some food.” Endram then saw Orbak.

“There we go!” he cheered. “See? That’s what I was talking about!”

“And now it makes sense,” remarked Hanako.

“Dad, that was your idea?” asked Lardeth.

“Yeah! He looks rugged, doesn’t he?” chuckled Endram.

“…Mama Teefmanam, mind helping me out here?” asked Lardeth. Teefmanam then joined the two men.

“Endram, sweetie,” sighed Teefmanam, “you remember the talk we had?”

“…Which one?” asked Endram.

“The one where something that works for you may not work for everyone?” replied Lardeth.

“What about it?” quizzed Endram. “…Oh, you think this is one of those things?”

“Yeah, this is one of those things,” confirmed Teefmanam.

“So, should we get inside?” asked Olmarfa.

“We’re still waiting on a Realmfleet Admiral,” answered Hanako.

“And here he is with his husbands and harem-girl,” called Elgrad as Rokalla appeared with three other Orc men and an Orc woman in a harem outfit.

“So, you’re the Summit Witness, Sir?” Arsha asked Rokalla.

“I am, indeed,” replied Rokalla. “I don’t believe you’ve met my lovers.”

“Can’t say as I have.”

“Then may I present my husbands, Herksher,”

“Hello,” bid one of the Orc men.


“Good Day,” greeted another.


“Hi,” called the last Orc man.

“And our Harem girl, Jamula.”

“Greetings, Your Highness,” bid the Orc woman as she bowed.

“Well then, welcome to Castle Royana,” declared Elgrad. “If everyone will follow me, we’ll head to the main dining hall. It’s buffet style, so help yourself.” He and Hanako led the way through the outer wall’s gate, across a moat, through an inner wall’s gate, and into the main castle doors. They then went through a door on the left side of the foyer and into a banquet hall with a long food table set up. Everyone got a plate and got the food they wanted. Jamula looked at Hanako’s plate with curiosity.

“Your Majesty, what is that?” she asked.

“This?” replied Hanako as she used her chopsticks to point at her food. “It’s sushi, a Sakuran Kitsune province dish, my home part of the Sacchrinda Kingdom. It’s raw fish wrapped in rice. Wanna try it?” Jamula looked at Prormerk and he shrugged. She took that as an opportunity to go ahead and grabbed a green ball of paste! “WHOA! WAIT A MINUTE! NOT THAT…!” Too late. Jamula put the ball into her mouth and the people not familiar with Orcs stared, their jaws to the floor.

“…A bit of a kick,” remarked Jamula, “but I’ve tasted spicier.”

“You’ve tasted…you’ve gotta be kidding me!” squeaked Elgrad when he found his voice. “You just…you just ate a whole ball of Kitsune wasabi!”

“Miss, are you okay?!” asked Emfam.

“…I’m not feeling much heat at all,” replied Jamula.

“How?!” asked Hanako. “That’s the spiciest condiment in all the Realms! If I ate half of that, I’d be puking my guts out and crying!”

“That’s thanks to His Majesty’s first ancestor,” answered Jamula as she pointed to Orbak.

“The area Realmgate City is in was once a harsh wasteland, with the Orcs wandering the place as nomads,” explained Orbak. “Because of that, Intrag altered their genetics so that they could draw nutrients from a wide variety of organic and inorganic matter.”

“Wait, I never knew this!” yelped Arsha.

“Orbak, Jamula, are you two telling me,” asked Ufnamfa, “that Orcs can eat ANYTHING?”

“We can eat MANY things, but not everything,” corrected Jamula. “The least we can eat is rocks, but that’s only if we’re starving.”

“You’re pulling my leg!” remarked Lardeth.

“Give me something you don’t usually eat, and I’ll bite into it,” challenged Jamula.

“Okay…um…” Hanako floundered, feeling like she would be taking advantage of her if she did so. “…I can’t think. Domesta!” The Head Maid appeared, her lower half still a blue smoke tail.

“Yes, Your Majesty?” asked Domesta.

“I wish for something unusual that we don’t eat but an Orc does,” wished Hanako.

“They told you they can eat a lot of things and you don’t believe them?” guessed Domesta. Hanako nodded and Domesta snapped her fingers. Her bottle then appeared in her hands.

“Wait, I didn’t mean…!” yelped Hanako.

“Relax, this is just a copy of our bottle,” assured Domesta. “Dumarith’s still in the real one, quarantining himself because a Genie cold.”

“A Genie cold?!” yelped Elmpam. “Oh dear!” Domesta handed Jamula the bottle and Jamula bit the bottle neck off and chewed it as if it were food!

“Holy…!” yelped Arsha as she witnessed the whole thing. Jamula then offered the bottle to her masters. They declined after patting their stomachs.

“…Okay, but it’s really tasty,” mused Jamula as she continued eating the bottle.

“Okay, everyone, we fooled around long enough,” muttered Elgrad. “I trust we all know why we’re here?” Everyone nodded. “Then let’s not waste any more time. Royals, Rokalla, let’s get to the Conference Hall. Everyone that’s not a Royal or Rokalla, I’m sorry, but this is a private summit. You’re welcome to stay here, but you cannot enter the Conference Hall.”

“We understand, Your Majesty,” assured Falnii.

“All right, let’s get to it,” declared Elgrad. He and Hanako led the Royals, Rokalla, and their heirs to the Conference Hall while Falnii, Foresna, Gorfanth, Jamula, Herksher, Bermak, and Prormerk stayed with Domesta.

“A Genie cold?” asked Foresna.

“You know how you guys get a cold?” answered Domesta. “Similar symptoms, only, there’s another one for us.”

“What’s that?”

“We lose control of our magic. I’m serious, time and space can be warped, objects appear out of nowhere, people or things may be changed, that sort of thing.”

“And staying in the bottle is a good idea?”

“Yes, actually. It keeps the haywire magic contained. Now, this means I have to REALLY be fanatic about not getting infected.”

“Don’t want to ruin the castle?”

“Nope. My hubby and I wouldn’t like to disappoint the Royanas.”

“…Hubby?” asked Herksher.


“…Is ‘hubby’ some sort of pet name between you two?” quizzed Jamula.

“No, I call him my hubby because we’re married.” Everyone’s jaw dropped.

“Genies? Marry?!” stammered Bermak.

“And everyone thought an Orc’s ability to eat most everything was shocking!” breathed Jamula.

“Why not?” asked Domesta. “We have the same emotions as you guys!”

“It’s just…usually, Genies scoff at the idea of marriage!” remarked Prormerk. “How long have you two been married?!”

“About 400 years. In fact, next month is our anniversary.”

“Have either of you…?” asked Gorfanth.

“No anniversary’s been forgotten by either of us.”

Everyone in the Conference Hall sat at the table and introduced themselves around it. “Over-Queen Feymay Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-Queen Emfam Felompha in attendance.”

“Crown Over-Prince Lardeth Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-Queen Roomef Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-Queen Jeefef Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-Queen Olmarfa Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-Queen Ufnamfa Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-Queen Teefmanam Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-Queen Pofomofo Felompha in attendance.”

“Over-King Endram Felompha in attendance.”

“Mid-King Elgrad Royana in attendance.”

“Crown Mid-Princess Arsha Royana in attendance.”

“Mid-Queen Hanako Royana in attendance.”

“Under-King Orbak Emboramii in attendance.”

“Crown Under-Princess Malnar Emboramii in attendance.”

“Under-Queen Elmpam Emboramii in attendance.”

“Third-Level Admiral Rokalla Borkshorm in attendance as witness.” Rokalla activated a device to send a private recording of the meeting on a secure channel to Aldarval.

“As the one who organized this,” declared Elgrad, “with all in attendance, and with a witness, I hereby declare the All-realm Royal Summit now in session. Now, the situation is already clear, but I’m going to sum it up. Dr. Borg, a renegade Sprite scientist, is working with Oyed to start the Final War. Now, Arsha, you’ve had more experience with her, even going so far as to deck her and, from what your reports have said, kill her twice.”

“That’s because of a machine she’s created to digitize her soul and create a clone body so she can come back. An unnatural form of immortality, in my opinion,” explained Arsha.

“Then any insights you have would be valuable,” suggested Elmpam.

“Dr. Borg seems to be Depths-bent on remaking the Realms,” answered Arsha. She then got a look. “Now that I think about it, the way she talks about it, I don’t think her goals line up with Oyed’s all that much.”

“What do you mean?” asked Emfam.

“Whenever she talked about her goals,” replied Arsha, “she says she’s doing it for a peaceful future of herself and her followers. Not once has she mentioned Oyed. Where does he fit in to her vision?”

“…You’re right, Oyed wants us to continually fight until all life is extinguished and he’s fully absorbed the Divine Ones’ power,” mused Olmarfa. “How does that fit into Dr. Borg’s vision?”

“It sounds like Dr. Borg is in a weak state,” offered Elgrad. “Our intelligence reports say that she’s at Reb Rojam’s old home of Plunder Island Stronghold and is in dire financial straits. It seems to me that the only way to catch her off-guard is with a preemptive strike. The Fae Republic is well-versed in aerial attacks, so any advice from them would…”

“I did NOT just hear you suggest that!” hissed Emfam. “Dr. Borg has Revenants in case you forgot! I won’t tell Rellmeer to send her people to die at their hands!”

“And I won’t condone that kind of bloodshed in the Under-realm!” declared Orbak.

“But, Orbak, Emfam! Dr. Borg is a Sprite!” protested Elgrad. “Who better to know how her mind works than Rellmeer! Need I remind you that Dr. Borg is a threat to the Realms?! She must be stopped by any means necessary!”

“Too many Out-realmers have died for the Under-realm throughout the previous Wars,” replied Orbak, “and I refuse to allow more to die unless there’s no choice. If you intend to go on a fool’s attack on Dr. Borg as it stands, you’ll do so without my help.”

“Besides, she would want us to make the first strike,” advised Arsha. “She’ll twist it so that her followers believe that we would attack people willy-nilly and people would then send money to her war effort instead of us. Callous though this sounds, if the Final War DOES start, SHE needs to be the one to make the first strike.”

“What would entice her to strike?” asked Orbak.

“We need to set up defensive perimeters around our most vital areas, for a start.”

“She has a point, Elgrad,” remarked Hanako. “If she’s forced to strike the least vital areas first, she won’t get much in the way of money, manpower, or firepower. We could easily overwhelm her if we stay on the defensive.”

“…Fine, I’ll hold off any plans of attack,” decided Elgrad. “I’ll recommend to Aldarval that she start looking into siege-defense strategies for our most vital areas.”

“In that, you will have the Under-realm’s full support,” declared Orbak.

“And the Over-realm’s,” supplied Emfam.

“There’s still another matter to discuss, though,” remarked Elgrad. “How long can we be patient?”

“Let us discuss that tomorrow,” suggested Hanako. “We need to think about this.”

“Agreed,” replied Elgrad. “Any objections to adjourn until tomorrow afternoon, same time, speak now.” No one said a word. “Since there are none, I hereby adjourn this summit until tomorrow. My staff will show you to your rooms.” Everyone got up and the staff then led the visitors to their rooms. Arsha and her lovers decided to sleep in her room. She updated the Endeavor on what was going on without giving the details on what was discussed, then they got ready for bed.

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Arsha was soon healed up and released from Sick Bay. She returned to the bridge of the ship and sat down in her chair. “Any news?” she asked Shalvey.

“Just a message from Rokalla,” Shalvey answered.

“What new mission has he got for us?” asked Malak. Shalvey then opened the message.

“…Erm, we’re gonna be taking Elmpam to Largandra,” she reported.

“What? Why?” asked Arsha.

“The message asked that I only tell everyone once you saw this first.”

“…All right.” Arsha got up and checked out the message. Her face fell as she read it. “…No.”

“What’s the matter?” asked Nazay.

“No. No! No! No!” Arsha hitched up her skirts and left the bridge in a hurry, repeating “no” all the while.

“…Wh…what’s going on?” asked Nazay.

“…An All-realm Royal Summit,” answered Shalvey. The bridge crews’ eyes went wide at the thought. The Rulers of the Over, Mid, and Under-realms were going to meet to discuss the future of the Realms.

“Arsha, will you three please calm down and be professional about this!?” snapped Elmpam as she and Rokalla spoke with Arsha, Lardeth, and Malnar in the conference room.

“Mama, there is NOTHING professional about this!” protested Malnar. “Every time there’s an All-realm Royal Summit, it leads to war!”

“I know the historical implications are staggering,” interjected Rokalla over the screen, “but the situation with Dr. Borg’s alliance has now escalated. If she and Oyed are taking bodies from a morgue, it’s a safe assumption that she’s building up a Revenant army out of the followers that died.”

“And our parents’ decision is to talk about sending people to die at a Revenant’s hands?!” snapped Lardeth.

“Lardeth, you know that’s not how your parents work,” reminded Elmpam.

“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation!” moaned Arsha.

“Look, the people of the Realms want the Realm Trinity Empire to be gone,” replied Elmpam. “and if you kids raise a stink over this, especially in the face of how Golems of Dr. Borg’s design were allowed onto the Endeavor to search for wayward merfolk, it’s NOT gonna look good.”

“And you think Daddy would want to talk about this?!” protested Arsha.

“Arsha, it was your father who organized this,” answered Rokalla.

“…The man who’s trying to find the most peaceful option,” muttered Lardeth, “and HE’S the one organizing this?!”

“Arsha, I trust you’re not raising a stink over this!” hissed Elgrad once the talk in the conference room was over and Arsha returned to her ready room.

“I feel like I can’t do anything BUT raise a stink!” answered Arsha. “Daddy, this is what Dr. Borg wants!”

“If intelligence reports are accurate, this isn’t EXACTLY what Dr. Borg wants.”


“Arsha, our spies in her organization reported that she’s got the firepower, but not the manpower. Now, this leaves her in a financially weak position. If she starts the Final War now, she won’t be able to pay her armies in the long run.”

“And how did our spies get into the Realm Trinity Empire in the first place?!”

“They’re the Realmfleet Revenants.”

“…You mean…Eltan’s group?”

“They disguised themselves as different Revenants and got the information during one of Dr. Borg’s rallies.”

“And they were okay with being used that way?!”

“Eltan insisted that she and her group be used that way.” Arsha shut her eyes and declined her head in frustration. “Look, I know you don’t want to put people into harm’s way, but that’s par for the course for a ruler. Like it or not, as my heir, those kinds of decisions are YOUR birthright. …Just make sure you listen to the people’s opinion as you make that decision.”

“…I’ll be there with Elmpam shortly.”

“Very well. Elgrad out.” The call ended and Arsha ran her hands down her face. What her father said was true, that kind of decision DID come with the Crown. That didn’t change her feelings on the matter.

Dr. Borg, Oyed, and the Realm Trinity Imperial Council met in their secret chambers. Several members clicked their tongues in disappointment. “Terrible,” remarked Scorpo.

“Absolutely terrible,” agreed Femfaf.

“My Lord and fellow Council Members,” addressed Dr. Borg, “I’d be a terrible scientist if I denied the facts Tormo presented to us. We’ve spent more on armaments than we should have.”

“No kidding,” muttered Tensam as his hands fiddled with his veil. The report was in front of him on the table. “We’ve only got 3 million golds for our armies’ food supplies. 3 million!” One of his legs jabbed the report for emphasis. “We’re practically starving!”

“That is true,” interjected Shefarn, “but we must remember that the Realms aren’t exactly eager to go to war against us.”

“That’s what we’re TRYING to get them to do!” snapped Dr. Borg.

“You must admit, there’s no money in peace,” supplied Tormo.

“We need a good impetus to get them to fight us,” muttered Remsu.

“What we need,” suggested Jansha, “is an assassination.”

“I’m open to suggestions,” offered Yamta. “Who’s got the weakest security that would incense the Realms into fighting us?” Yulduk then snapped his fingers as an idea hit him.

“I’ve got just the target and she’s here in the Under-realm!” he called.

“Who?” asked Scorpo.

“She?” Oyed muttered to himself.

“Why,” answered Yulduk, “the Queen of the Galdredan Lava Kingdom!”

“Andwayla Narven?” inquired Remsu. “What good will getting rid of her do?”

“Well, her kingdom doesn’t have the best security, right?” asked Yulduk.

“Right,” answered Remsu, still not following. Femfaf’s eyes then went wide.

“And she’s the one who drafted Anti-Splitter Policy, yes?” she asked.

“She did,” replied Remsu, finally getting it, “Anti-Splitter policy that took too much time and money to fully carry out!”

“Exactly!” confirmed Yulduk.

“There’s a cherry on top for that,” mused Jansha. “According to the news, Calandra’s married Elmar and current gossip is that she’ll be accompanying him on the Endeavor.”

“Barring any tragedy?” asked Remsu.

“That’s the rumor,” confirmed Jansha.

“And such an act would force her to return to the Galdredan Kingdom, thus keeping her constantly thinking about her beloved Elmar and being too distracted to effectively lead her armies,” chuckled Oyed.

“And Galdredan people are known to be the toughest fighters in the Under-realm, second only to Orcs,” supplied Jansha.

“Well, looks like we have a reason for people to give money to us,” mused Dr. Borg.

“I’ll draft up a plan,” declared Yamta. “Andwayla Narven will die very soon.”

“My followers, this pleases me!” chuckled Oyed.

Once the meeting ended, Dr. Borg headed to her laboratory. As she walked, she got a feeling of being followed. She looked around and saw one of Reb’s former pirates, a male Lightning Dragon named Rochak, standing there. “…May I help you?” she asked.

“I need to speak to you, somewhere private,” answered Rochak. Dr. Borg arched an eyebrow.

“Follow me,” she directed. She led Rochak back to the conference room.

“Always wanted to see the inside of this place,” Rochak mused. “Even when Reb was in charge of Plunder Island Stronghold, this was a private conference room, ‘trusted’ advisors only. A place where you’re free to discuss your secrets and your lies, yes?” Dr. Borg bristled at that comment.

“You said you wanted to speak to me about something?”

“‘Someone’ is the more correct term.”

“And who are we talking about?”


“Okay, enough with the riddles! Tell me what you know!”

“I know what you told us. Oyed intends to remake the Realms into one united Realm, bringing about an end to what divides us. I also know what you DIDN’T tell us! How he intends to unite us is through our love for combat! He intends to have everyone constantly fight for his sole amusement!” Dr. Borg’s eye went wide.

“Rochak, no one else must know Oyed’s real intentions!”

“Or what? You’ll have me killed?”

“I would never kill any of my followers, especially pirates!”

“Wouldn’t you? Didn’t you try to have Reb and Melgem killed?”

“That’s different!”

“It’s the same! A heavily armed island base, an army of proactive soldiers wanting to bring about change by any means necessary, if it’s not quite the same…it soon will be! Are you aware that Jansha created more robots like her?”

“She showed me the production lines, yes.”

“Did she show you their computer simulations?”

“I got a look at them.”

“Did she tell you that all the models predict that prolonged combat would kill everyone in the Realms?!”

“I won’t allow prolonged combat!”

“Not even if Oyed told you to allow the Final War to continue until the end of time?!” The silence was deafening. Rochak then shook his head. “Predestined, preordained. Life will die and Oyed will absorb his children’s power to create a darker Realm. The end of our world…inevitable.”

“Rochak, I…” As Dr. Borg placed her hand on Rochak’s shoulder, he gasped and whirled around, knocking her hand away. “…I’m worried about you. You’re mixed up. I’m not a mindless destroyer like Oyed. Those things you’re worried about won’t happen. I won’t let them.”

“…For all our sakes, I hope not,” muttered Rochak. “I won’t tell anyone what we’ve just discussed, but it WOULD be nice for everyone to know what we’re actually fighting for.” He left the room, leaving Dr. Borg to her thoughts.

“…If things go right, you’ll know by the start of next year.”

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After Oltor’s execution, the last thing to take care of was the funeral for Rentir and Glanfu. Their bodies were resting in the morgue and the guard leafed through his magazine. He then heard a knock on the door and pressed a button to open the door. Arsha was the one who knocked. She entered the room and spoke to the guard. “Any disturbances?” she asked.

“Nope,” replied the guard. “All the stiffs here are still stiff.”

“And what about any intruders?”

“You’re hardly an intruder, since you know the knock.”

“Any attempts to create a Revenant?”

“Your Highness, what’s with all the questions?”

“The Sheriff’s office went through Rentir and Glanfu’s records, even their communication records! It’s been discovered that they made a deal with Dr. Borg!” The guard’s expression became one of disbelief.

“…Sheriff Rentir?! One of Dr. Borg’s flunkies?!” he asked. “Impossible!”

“It’s possible, I assure you,” came an oily voice. Arsha and the guard’s shadows then came together and formed a pool of blackness. Rising out of the blackness were Oyed, Dr. Borg, and Yulduk. The guard slammed the alarm and Arsha pulled out her communicator.

“Backup! Now!” she called. Two Realmfleet officers then burst into the room as everyone prepared to fight.

“Find them,” Oyed ordered Dr. Borg. “Yulduk and I will hold them off.” Dr. Borg nodded and began her search. Arsha and one officer took on Oyed while the guard and the other officer dealt with Yulduk. To their credit, the two were good fighters, managing to keep a Revenant at bay. Yulduk then cast a fireball at the two. The officer, a Blaze Elf, then held it back.

“Really?” scoffed the officer. “That is SUCH a basic spell.”

“I suppose YOU are a Flame Master?” replied Yulduk.

“I’m near enough.” The officer then created fire ropes. “Rashel bu DAH!” he shouted as he flung his arms towards Yulduk. The fire ropes then became fire snakes as they were launched towards Yulduk.

“Rasulain!” chanted Yulduk as he jabbed into the fire snakes’ mouths, splitting them down the middle and dissipating them. “And you scoffed at ME about basic spells?” The officer was catching his breath after casting his spell. “That’s only a Tier 2 spell. If you’re winded from that, you’re nowhere near as close to being a Flame Master. I, on the other hand…” A red runic circle then appeared beneath him. “Hasheenday!” The runic circle then moved underneath his opponents and a massive octopus of fire grabbed them, burning them as the tentacles constricted them.

Arsha and her partner continued swinging their punches at Oyed. He kept blocking them, then kicked into Arsha’s chest, knocking her back. Her partner then leapt towards Oyed, but Oyed grabbed him by the face and spewed black mist onto him. The mist entered his ears, eyes, and mouth and he was reduced to a twitching mess, his face contorted into a silent scream. Oyed let him crumple to the floor. “He’ll be awake from that nightmare in a few minutes,” he purred to Arsha. He then tilted her chin up. “Such beauty would go to waste if it were damaged.”

“I’m not looking to be part of your harem!” snarled Arsha.

“I offer a greater position than that. You see, you and Dr. Borg are much alike. You both seek to unite the Realms. You both want to ensure the best future possible for you and your loved ones. Dr. Borg saw it my way with no coercion, making her one of my best warriors. I extend the same offer to you. Join me and unite the Realms, fulfill your greatest wish. My offer will lead to peace.”

“Take your offer and blow it out your…!”

“INSOLENT, FECULENT CHILD!” Oyed then grabbed Arsha by the neck and hoisted her up. “Where is it?! I weakened your precious Realms’ resolve with my presence, made the veil between the living and the dead thinner by bringing Intrag into the Over-realm, made one of your fellow Captains resign, yet still you defy me! Where is it?!” He then slashed across Arsha’s face with his claws. “Where, in your soul, is the part that tells you to resist me?!” As blood dripped from her cheek, Arsha chuckled.

“There’s the issue you’re having!” she laughed. “You wanted me to be weakened by my Inner Demons! That’s what made Dr. Borg so much more pliable! That’s where we’re different!” She grabbed Oyed’s arm, then Oyed felt a pain in his head.

Oyed found himself in a barren landscape under a dark sky with the corpses of the Divine Ones littering the ground. He scoffed. “Trying to gain access to my plans, are we?”

“Not really!” cackled a demonic voice. Oyed arched an eyebrow.

“Who are you?! You’re not talking like Arsha!”

“Oh, but I AM Arsha! …More or less!” Arsha’s Inner Demon then leapt onto Oyed, her tentacles constricting his limbs and throat. Her claws then plunged into his skull!

Oyed finally returned to the real world and clutched his head in pain, screaming as if he were really stabbed through the head. When she fell to the floor, Arsha drove her fist into Oyed’s ribs, then another fist into his diaphragm, the impact knocking him into Yulduk. Yulduk lost concentration on his spell and the fire-octopus vanished, leaving behind a burned guard and officer. Oyed’s nightmare victim regained his mobility and mind. All four people checked each other over as Yulduk checked his master over. He was gasping in pain. “…Pain!” he hissed. “Arsha…inflicted…pain!”

“My Lord!” called Dr. Borg. “We have Rentir and Glanfu! I’m opening a way out!” She opened a small Realmgate and drank a strength potion to lift Glanfu and Rentir’s bodies. Yulduk got Oyed up and had the Titan lean on him so they could get out. Yulduk then cast a few fireballs onto the walls, distracting their opponents and giving them time to return to base. Once the fires were put out, Arsha shouted in anger.

“GIVE! ME! A FAT! BREAK!” she roared. She then went dizzy for a few seconds. As soon as her compatriots went near her, she recovered. “Okay, may need to see Malnar about that.”

“Your Highness, are you all right?” asked one of her officers.

“I’m fine now,” she assured him.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, positive.” Arsha then released a breath in fatigue. “Have to admit, Oyed almost tempted me with his offer.”

“What made you resist?”

“His path would lead to the Realms’ downfall. I like the Realms too much for that. I don’t need him to make me a woman; I already AM one!”

“Captain, you made Oyed feel pain,” recalled the morgue’s guard.

“…Yeah, I did,” remarked Arsha in surprise.

“YOU DID WHAT?!” Malnar and Marshii shouted as Arsha was in Sick Bay.

“Use my Inner Demon against the enemy,” replied Arsha as she rubbed her ears.


“What’s the matter with you two?!” protested Arsha.

“Arsha, using your Inner Demon as a weapon could kill you!” lectured Malnar. “If you used it on a weaker opponent, the damage to your soul would be severe!”

“I DIDN’T use it on a weaker opponent!” countered Arsha. “I used it on Oyed.”

“Oyed was there?!” yelped Marshii.

“And he doubled over in pain after I hit him twice,” answered Arsha.

“…But he CAN’T feel pain, can he?” asked Marshii.

“That’s what the Codex says,” replied Malnar. “…Say, you don’t think…?”

“I’m NOT!” hissed Arsha. “I’m not the Champion!”

“But only the Champion could cause Oyed pain,” replied Marshii.

“Come on, even the Divine Ones are a little screwy on that prophecy,” remarked Arsha. “They all said so.”

“I guess you have a point,” mused Malnar. “I mean, they misinterpreted prophecies before.”

“Fair enough,” remarked Marshii. “In any case, Arsha, you’re staying there until I’ve given you a full checkup!”

“But, Doctor…!” protested Arsha.

“Shut it!” snapped Marshii.

After the incident in the morgue, Oyed had bandages over his torso and an ice pack on his head. “How’s that even possible?!” protested Yulduk.

“No yelling, please,” groaned Oyed.

“Sorry, my Lord, but, seriously, how?”

“Out of desperation came invention, I’d say. I had not anticipated someone using their own inner demons on me.”

“You don’t think she’s the Champion, do you?” Offense then crossed Oyed’s features as he stood up.

“Certainly not! Besides, if she were, it would still amount to nothing. I now know how she fights when she’s struggling for life. Victory won’t come to her. …Speaking of which, how’s Dr. Borg coming along?”

“She’s still chanting the spell at the moment.”

“Let’s go see, I never saw a Revenant being created.” Oyed and Yulduk then went into the next room. The bodies had just opened their eyes and were screaming.

“Shanwey yat talyen falunar!” chanted Dr. Borg as the pentagram glowed. “Shanwey yat talyen falunar! Shanwey yat talyen falunar! TEL!” She stopped and the bodies stopped screaming. Much like Yulduk, Rentir and Glanfu had ashen grey skin with blue veins glowing like stars. Rentir’s body still had fur, so one could only see the veins.

“Oh, Oyed, my HEAD!” groaned Glanfu.

“Glanfu? Is that you?” moaned Rentir.

“It’s me, my love,” replied Glanfu. Just then, their memories came back to them. “Our house! The explosion!”

“It DID take your lives,” replied Dr. Borg. “We got you out of the morgue.”

“Thank you,” bid Rentir. “Now, about the cousin fornicator who killed us…”

“The Over-realm Royals already executed him,” replied Oyed. Rentir and Glanfu then knelt. “Please, rise, my loyal subjects.” The two rose. “We’re currently at a repurposed Plunder Island Stronghold in the Under-realm. Would you care for a tour?”

“Of course, My Lord,” replied Glanfu.

“Splendid.” Oyed then led the two out of the room.

“…A real smooth talker, ain’t he?” muttered Yulduk to Dr. Borg.

“Well, that’s how he works,” replied Dr. Borg. Tormo then came in.

“Doctor, we need to discuss something,” he griped as he presented a paper to Dr. Borg. She took it and looked it over. Her eye then went wide.

“Yulduk, Tormo, assemble the Council,” she ordered. “We have financial problems to discuss.”

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The day of Elmpam’s sermon had arrived. Arsha, her lovers, Elmar and Calandra, Elmpam’s family, King Lektem and Tegnar, Lady Gramfar, one of the five Green Divine Ones of Earth, and many other people were in the pews as Elmpam went through with her sermon. “We always seek answers from the Divine Ones,” she preached, “but what good is it if they simply hand us the answers? How do we learn? Remember that Lord Glaktem once said that our discoveries of how the Realms work are what improve the Realms, and I see evidence of that every day. More often than not, our prejudice is made less when we discover the answer ourselves than if Lord Slameek tells us how the waves work or if Lady Alpira hands us the answer on why casting a curse feels like your soul is freezing. And thus, we all must remember that our Pantheon, like parents, would want us to find things out for ourselves. We are all children of the Divine Ones, from the first species that went extinct to the ones that rise up today, and we must make them proud by finding the answers ourselves. Let us also remember that even we have surprised the Divine Ones at various points in time. The most famous incident that leaps to my mind is when Lady Gramfar heard the news about Blenders. She thought it impossible for different species to be together and create hybrid children, yet Blenders are such a common sight now. With that, I would like to finish with this prayer.” All the churchgoers declined their heads and closed their eyes. “Divine Lords and Ladies, bless us with continuing to expand our knowledge and keeping our sense of wonder alive. Amen.”

“Amen,” repeated the church. Elmpam then looked to Lady Gramfar.

“My Divine Green Lady, do you wish to add something?”

“Only my prayer for you all,” replied Gramfar. “Bless us with continual surprises, because they make the Realms better.”

“We’ll certainly do so,” chuckled Elmpam.

“What tripe!” called a voice. Gramfar’s face contorted into a snarl.

“WHO DARES?!” she bellowed as she whirled towards the back of the church.

I dare!” barked the voice’s owner. It was a damaged Oltor. “I may be no fan of Oyed, but he IS right about one thing!”

“And what would that be, O Wayward Child?!” challenged Gramfar.

“The Realms are too messy as they stand!”

“Your Majesties, My Divine Lady, could you get everyone out?” asked Elmpam. “I must deal with Oltor.”

“Mama, you’re gonna get hurt!” protested Malnar.

“That IS a possibility,” conceded Elmpam. “However, I’m bound by my morals to stop him and I don’t want anyone else’s pain on my conscience.”

“…Be careful, my child,” urged Gramfar. She and the Kings then herded everyone out through the back, leaving Elmpam at the altar and Oltor at the door. They both then strode down the aisle.

“You’re better than this, Oltor!” growled Elmpam.

“Even parents need to let their children go!” replied Oltor. “The Divine Ones and Oyed can’t grasp that we don’t need them! Their fight fractured a perfect world! Now look where we are! Thieves, rapists, murderers, black magic being used in the Over-realm, and the Final War’s gonna start soon! That’s the trouble with fighting for diversity, we lose sight of where we came from!”

“And killing Out-realmers will make us remember? First Lektem’s dad, now this? When does it stop?”

“When the other Realms understand that the Over-realm is superior in its attitudes! When they understand that light MUST triumph over darkness, the two can’t be balanced! We want the same thing, Elmpam!”

“You misunderstand what I want. When I first came to the Under-realm, I once believed that their use of dark magic was too liberal. I really did. I got over that prejudice when I discovered how many steps one needs to memorize to cast a curse. There are actually so many opportunities not to go down that path and Under-realmers take them, they’re not the all-necromancer society you think they are!”

“Your best friend and name mate died by an Incubus’ hands!”

“And, for a while, I wanted to avenge Elmpam Roosheef’s murder. I really did. I wanted to kill that Incubus so bad, but it’s not the life she would want me to lead and this isn’t the life your wife and son want you to lead.”

“Don’t you DARE put that on me!” Oltor was about to swing his clenched fist when Elmpam pulled a metal cylinder out of her dress’s waistline. “…A TNG?”

“To block your powers and level the playing field. Your ability to talk someone to death IS magic based. You need to stop. Take time to learn before it’s too late.”

“You wouldn’t dare set that thing off!” Elmpam wasn’t bluffing. She pressed a button on the TNG and dropped it. The button flashed before the whole thing exploded, knocking the two Inus back. TNG, short for Thaumic Nullifier Grenade, designed to temporarily block any magical abilities. Unfortunately, it doesn’t differentiate between people, so both Inus lost their powers. They got up and Oltor snarled as he tore pieces of the pews off and twirled them like stakes. “You’re supposed to be my sister!”

“Which is why I have to stop you.” Elmpam took off her skirts, leaving her in nothing more than her bodice and pantaloons, and grabbed a candelabra, twirling it like a staff. Oltor roared in rage and charged at Elmpam. Elmpam swung the candelabra and kept him at a distance. She then threw a non-lit candle at Oltor’s eye, but Oltor rolled out of the way and threw his stakes. They buried themselves into a pair of Elmpam’s arms, and she yelped in pain. He then dashed forward and drove an uppercut into her jaw. Elmpam tried to shake off the pain, but Oltor slammed her head into a column. Elmpam then noticed a cloth near her and grabbed it. She then swung her tail into Oltor’s face, getting some loose fur into his eyes, and he howled in agony as he tried to get the fur out. Elmpam then got behind him and got the cloth around his neck before she grabbed both ends in one hand and pulled hard. Oltor then slammed Elmpam into walls in an attempt to get her off before he passed out. He gasped and panted until…he fell, unconscious. Elmpam checked his heartbeat, sighed in relief when she heard it, then looked mournfully at him as the sentence for what he did was death. “…I’m sorry.” She then used the cloth to bind his arms, then got another cloth to muzzle his mouth. Gramfar and Arsha with her lovers dashed into the church to see how the fight ended. It was then Elmpam felt the pain of the stakes in her arms again. Gramfar and Malnar dashed over to her and cast pain-numbing spells while Arsha called for a prisoner pick-up. Officers and medics arrived at the church as Oltor was waking up. The officers picked him up roughly and fear took over his heart. He knew what was coming.

The next day, Roolpam was pleading with the Kings to mitigate Oltor’s sentence, but they were deaf to her pleas. “Your Majesties, please! I’m his mother!” she wailed.

“He was disowned by your family, according to official records,” reminded Lektem.

“He has personally killed 429 people in his bloody career,” supplied Tegnar, “one of them being Lektem’s father.”

“He has also attacked other monarchs, Fae Empress Rellmeer being the most famous.”

“We’re sorry, Mrs. Tonsur, but Oltor is to be hanged tomorrow.”

“Please, I beg you!” pleaded Roolpam. “He’s let grief dictate his actions!”

“His mistake,” hissed Tegnar. “We had a report saying that Rentir’s house had been destroyed in an explosion and a bomb’s remains were discovered amongst the wreckage, on top of Rentir and Glanfu’s dead bodies. We may not like Rentir, but killing him disrupted elections, another capital offense.”

“Your Majesties!” begged Roolpam.

“We do not wish to detain you with a futile effort!” Lektem pointed towards the throne room’s door, meaning that they were certain of their decision. Roolpam’s tail drooped as did her head. She left the throne room in a somber manner.

Because of his threat level, all Over-realm monarchs attended the execution, as did Oltor’s family. The gallows stood in the center of the execution yard and awaited a person to choke out their breath. Oltor was dragged to the gallows and was held near the noose. “Hear ye, all in attendance!” called a robed man. “Let it be known that on this 1497th day of Rafem in the 4006300080th year of the Three Realms’ Third Age of Unity, Over-Splitter Supreme Oltor Tonsur is found guilty of the following charges: mass-murder, destruction of Multi-realm facilities, attacking Realmfleet, and disruption of politics. Let it be known that the judges have deemed he is too dangerous to be kept alive! Let it be known that he is to be hanged until dead by a former accomplice of his so the Realms may rest easier! Let it be known that none in attendance are to discuss what happens here unless at the Felomphas’ discretion! Your Majesties, will you follow the judges’ recommendation?”

“We have spoken and have agreed that we shall heed the judges,” replied one of Lardeth’s moms, Queen Jeefef Felompha. “Who is the former associate of the Condemned?”

“A Mermaid that has had her trial, Halfam Malfee,” answered the robed man. Oltor’s eyes goggled as Halfam, in her human form, strode towards the gallows.

“You?!” snarled Oltor.

“Me,” confirmed Halfam.

“Let it be known,” called the robed man, “that, because of Halfam Malfee actively mitigating the damage the Over-Splitters have done and proving repentance of being part of a terrorist organization, her sentence is temporary banishment from the Over-realm. If the Final War does not begin, she will live somewhere else for 100 years. If it does and she proves bravery, she will return sooner. Before that, she has requested to be the one to carry out the execution.” Oltor fixed Halfam with a look of burning hatred as the noose went around his neck and was tightened. “Has the Condemned any final words?”

“Halfam Malfee, you are a traitorous fish!” snarled Oltor.

“And you’re a cousin-banging freak!” replied Halfam as her hand went onto the lever. She turned to the robed man. “I am ready!”

“Hang him!” called the robed man. Halfam pulled the lever and the trapdoor beneath Oltor opened. The noose tightened further and Oltor flailed as he tried to get air into his lungs. That futile battle lasted about 11 minutes before he stopped moving. An Inu doctor moved towards the gallows and checked Oltor’s breathing and pulse.

“…It is done,” pronounced the doctor. The silence was deafening as the yard emptied and Oltor’s body was removed from the noose and taken to the morgue.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-27

“And thus…” floundered Elmpam a few mornings before her sermon. “…And thus…” She then growled to herself before sitting on the bed and looking at her notes. “… ‘And thus, we all must remember that our Pantheon, like parents, would want us to find things out for ourselves.’ Why in the Depths can’t I remember that line?! I wrote the damn thing!”

“THEY CAN’T BE SERIOUS!” howled Lensarn’s voice.

“Daddy?” asked Elmpam. She left the room and went downstairs to see Lensarn and Roolpam in the kitchen. Lensarn was ranting and holding a newspaper while Roolpam checked on breakfast. “Daddy, what’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong?! Our kingdom’s people, that’s what’s wrong!” ranted Lensarn. “Look at the polls!” He handed Elmpam the newspaper and she saw the section concerning the upcoming election for the Coliamdii Kingdom’s new Prime Minister, the right hand of the Royal Family. Elmpam’s eyes went wide as she saw the results.

“Rentir’s a candidate?!” she yelped. “And he’s the people’s choice?! The guy’s a face-eating leopard!”

“No kidding!” agreed Lensarn as he helped Roolpam set the table.

“I can understand that we all need to be diverse,” supplied Roolpam, “but I hardly see how enforcing diversity makes it appealing.”

“Exactly!” agreed Elmpam.

“Elmpam, maybe you can convince our Kings to not let Rentir into office?” asked Lensarn.

“Daddy, you KNOW the All-realm Constitution forbids me from doing that.”

“But you’re from the Coliamdii Kingdom!”

“I’m considered an Under-realm Royal now. I help Orbak rule a foreign Realm and Article 7 expressly states that Royals of a foreign country or Realm may not interfere in another’s politics. I’m sorry, but my vote no longer has weight.”

“…Dammit!” swore Lensarn.

“Hey, guys!” called Malnar’s currently sunny voice. She bounded into the kitchen. “Did you catch the latest?!” she asked.

“…On what?” asked Roolpam.

“That mermaid we found and discovered to be an Over-Splitter!” answered Malnar, referring to Halfam. “She’s given up the secret base and all Over-Splitter secrets!”

“You’re kidding!” gasped Lensarn, his mood brightening.

“Get a load of this!” Malnar pulled out a newspaper, the All-Realm Times, and displayed the headline. “Over-Splitters now smashed!” He then read the article explaining that, last night, after being identified and turned over to police custody, former Mermaid Over-Splitter, Halfam Malfee, revealed that Oltor was planning a two-person assassination attempt on the Kings of the Coliamdii Kingdom. Thanks to her cooperation, their base and arsenal was found and all data relating to the attack was unlocked. Given light of this turn of events, and that Halfam only acted as a spy and actively mitigated the damage the Over-Splitters had done, the police were pushing for a lighter sentence. When asked why she did that, she had said that she only joined because she was taken in by lies that it was an Out-realmer who killed her parents and she only discovered the truth that it was Oltor himself who did the deed because they were top diplomats that brought ideas from other cultures into the Over-realm.

“Well,” mused Roolpam after she and Lensarn read the article, “I suppose that’s a mercy.”

“How did she get past the weaponized conversation?” asked Lensarn.

“… ‘Weaponized conversation’?” repeated Malnar.

“Oltor has an ability where he can literally talk a person to death,” explained Roolpam. “Pretentious sounding, yes, but he can modulate the timbre of his voice so it falls into step with the listener’s heart and then, by gradually lowering his voice, he could eventually coax the heart into stopping.”

“…Yeah, definitely glad I haven’t met him.”

Over in Rentir’s house, Rentir stirred from his bed and yawned. He figured it was another day, another gold for him. He got up from his bed and made his way to his wife’s hammock. His wife, Glanfu, was a Drider from the Under-realm and preferred sleeping in hammocks. She snored peacefully, but loudly. Still, Rentir slept well, he was a deep sleeper. He lightly stroked Glanfu’s hair before heading to his closet and putting a bath robe on. It was his turn to make breakfast and he had an idea in mind. He then went downstairs to the kitchen and found Oltor at the table. “…You DO know you’re a wanted man, old friend,” muttered Rentir.

“Have you seen the latest polls?” asked Oltor as he looked at the newspaper. “Looks like the people want you to be our new Prime Minister.”

“I wouldn’t bet against me.” Rentir headed to the coffee maker.

“No, it wouldn’t be prudent.” As Rentir started the coffee, Oltor continued. “I want you to understand something, Rentir; although my current hatred for you over betraying the Over-Splitters is enough to make Oyed fear me, what I’m about to do is impersonal.”

“What are you babbling about?” Rentir continued showing his back to Oltor and kept his gaze fixed on the coffee pot’s usual area. Knife block, coffee pot, mugs, potholders, they all rested in their usual place.

“Everything that exists has a specific nature. Each entity exists as something in particular and has characteristics that are a part of what it is. ‘Fam’ is ‘Fam’. And, no matter what he does, ‘Rentir’ is ‘Rentir’. If I’m to save the Over-realm from the evils of the other Realms, you and your wife’s existence must come to an end before you approach the Kings with your election petition.”

“You’re going to kill us and give your usual speech that diversity is hollowing out the Over-realm’s morals?”

“I live up to my name’s meaning. I’m a soldier of purity and am dedicated to spreading purity across the Over-realm.” By this point, Oltor had pulled out a garrot wire.

“Interesting plan. Unfortunately for you…it’s not really an option, neither is using a trick I had taught you against me.” Rentir grabbed a knife from the block, held it in a grip so the blade ran parallel to his arm, then turned and slashed upwards, slicing the wire in two and cutting Oltor’s muzzle. Oltor yelped and backed into the table, touching the wound and drawing his hand back to see his blood on his fingers. The commotion caused Glanfu to wake up and scurry downstairs to see the whole altercation.

“Rentir, are you all right?!” she asked.

“Better than Oltor right now,” replied Rentir. “He tried to talk me to death.” He then blocked Oltor’s punch and slashed across his chest. Oltor stumbled backwards as he drew in a breath and covered the wound. The cut only scratched the surface of the skin under his fur, but the spread made it look a lot worse. “Prime Minister?” scoffed Rentir. “That would mean my wife’s talents would be overlooked, she would have been reduced to a trophy wife!” He then slammed the knife’s handle into Oltor’s eye. “Prime Minister? Foolish Cousin Fornicator! My campaign is a sham! A better way to observe the culmination of Dr. Borg’s research!” He then grabbed Oltor’s head and drove his knee into his opponent’s chest. “Prime Minister? Do you know how much power I’d have to give up to be the Kings’ Prime Minister?” He then slapped Oltor a few times, then threw him over the table. “Tell me, did you ever wonder how those assassins even found your wife and son?” Oltor’s single good eye went wide when he started putting two and two together. “That’s right, and I chose my insult carefully. I looked through medical records before you joined the Over-Splitters and noticed that your wife was your cousin on your mother’s side! You two brought an inbred monster into the Realms! That’s why I’m so determined to enforce diversity! When I heard you had joined the Over-Splitters, I decided that I needed a safer place to observe the experiment, so I turned myself in and gave up the location of the base! After that, I was granted amnesty as a Sheriff and made sure to funnel the money I had taken from you lot and put it into my campaign.”

“Ex…periment?” strained Oltor.

“Experiment, auditions,” remarked Glanfu, “whatever flies your skyship. We wanted to prove to Dr. Borg that we were worthy to join her cause and she approved, saying we could even become Revenants if we ever died.”

“And the chance of having a child would still be there,” continued Rentir. “We witnessed a Revenant and a Live One give birth, as well as two Revenants! With the Revenant/Live One Blenders, the child’s dominant traits are the Revenant ones.”

“You mean…this whole thing…!” gasped Oltor in pain.

“That’s right, old friend!” laughed Rentir as he hoisted Oltor up by the neck. “I spent 95 million golds, from the Over-Splitters’ coffers to my pocket, on a fake Prime Minister Campaign, all just to see you go mad!” Oltor then head-butted Rentir and dashed around trap lines Glanfu had laid down so he could escape. Glanfu then tended to her husband as he steadied himself. It was then that the two heard beeping.

Oltor was a good distance away before the explosion engulfed the house. Given its remote location, rescue crews couldn’t get there in time to save Rentir and Glanfu Ental. Oltor howled to mark that the architects of his wife and son’s death were dead. He then dashed away.