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

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A Realmgate Repair ship lay in ruins below the Under-realm Realmgate it was assigned to. The crew of the Scorpion worked fast as they began the countdown on the explosives they had placed. “All right, that’s it, everyone!” called Scorpo. “Get inside and move us back!” They wasted no time in obeying. Once they were at a safe distance, the countdown went from 10 to 0. The instant it did, the bombs exploded and tore through the Realmgate. Soon, it fell, a blackened hulk sinking beneath the waves. This was the same for every Realmgate in every realm. Scorpo called Dr. Borg. “Our target’s down,” he reported.

“As are the other targets, from what I’ve heard,” answered Dr. Borg. “That’s all of them. Our organization is the only one that can cross the Realms. Oyed will be making his address any second now.” The instant the call finished, the skies across the Realms became covered in black clouds. A hole in the clouds then opened and Oyed appeared in it.

“You have all failed to take me down!” he proclaimed to the Realms. “With the Realmgates gone, you have no choice but to pray to me for travel between Realms! And for those thinking Arsha can save you, FORGET IT!” He then displayed what he did to Arsha. “As you can see, Arsha was nothing more than a mere fox and I was the hunter that slaughtered her! To all those who dare oppose me, give it up! Your hope is dead! Your future is dead! Your hero, Arsha, is dead! I am the true master of the Realms! You only exist to amuse me! The instant you don’t, I will destroy the Realms and make a single Realm! I will fix my children’s mistakes one way or another! Bow to me! Obey me…or SUFFER!” The hole closed, but the clouds remained, as did the grief of the Realms.

Over in the Over-realm, Elgrad and Hanako were being comforted as best they could be by their friends and Arsha’s lovers. Elgrad then knelt down. “…This is it, isn’t it?” he mumbled as he drew a knife.

“Elgrad, NO!” pleaded Endram.


“HOLD!” shouted a new voice. It was Falheem. She managed to wrestle the knife out of his hands. “Elgrad, it’s not your time!”



“…Don’t give me hope! Hope is dead!”

“Arsha’s alive, so is hope!” Falheem then summoned a loom with a tapestry still being woven. Each thread was still weaving itself through the strings of the loom. On what was completed, one could see the major events of Arsha’s life.

“…Arsha’s life is still being woven?!” asked Elgrad.

“Exactly. We still don’t know how it will end.” Elgrad still stared in disbelief, then he sheathed the knife.

“Well, it WON’T be ending any time soon!” he declared. “If Oyed was that sloppy, then that’s a weapon to use against him! I’m not giving up anymore! With the Realmgates gone, I’m severed from my Realm, but I will take this chance to find her! I will scour EVERY falm of the Over-realm, right down to the precise zarruk! When I find her, I’ll look for Oyed and then KILL him!”

“If you think, for one minute, you’re doing this alone,” called Foresna, “then, Your Majesty, you’re out of your Ones-damned mind!”

“We’re joining you!” proclaimed Emfam. “You have the resources of the Over-realm at your disposal!”

“Everyone!” called a new voice. It was Denstra. “Everyone, did you see Oyed’s…?!”

“Falheem proved him wrong!” replied Elgrad. “Arsha’s alive! The tapestry of her soul’s still being woven!”

“…Need a ship to help scour the Over-realm, then?”

“Commander, I will happily accept your offer! Falheem, can we rely on the Divine Ones to help?”

“If my siblings can be found,” replied Falheem. “Somehow, they’ve passed beyond my sight. I must search the Realms and find them. I shall start in the Under-realm.”

“Good luck. Join us when you can.” Falheem bowed to Elgrad and vanished in black smoke.

“This way,” directed Denstra as she led everyone back to the Endeavor. The search was on!

Falheem arrived in Frigandor and immediately felt the presence of her fellow Divine Ones. “…Here? All in one place? …So low?!” She followed the presence to a cave in a glacier and went inside. After an hour, she found a room with her fellows hanging like meat in a butcher’s storage room! They were all emaciated and ashen-skinned with a tendril embedded into their spines! “WHAT IN ALL THE REALMS?!” she yelped. “My siblings! What happened to…?!” A metal tendril then buried itself into her spine and shocked her. As she screamed, the tendril drained black liquid from her body. She soon became emaciated like her fellows, then the tendril made her join them. She lost consciousness as the people behind this stepped into the room. One of them was a robot with more human-like features and a black visor with two red lights functioning as eyes, the second was Dr. Borg.

“I bet no little girl alive could boast of having such a massive doll collection,” joked the robot in Jansha’s voice.

“Indeed,” replied Dr. Borg as she patted the robot’s head like a parent would with their child. “Speaking of which, how’s the new body working out, Jansha?”

“Better than ever!” answered the robot, the new Jansha. “So much more efficient than Dr. Ganshar’s construction!”

“Good to hear. It should help process the Divine Mana as efficiently as an organic’s body.”

“We still need Oyed’s.”

“That will come in time. For now, we must still keep this hidden until Oyed’s sufficiently distracted enough.”

“All right, Mom. In the meantime, we need to ensure that no one can fight in Arsha’s memory.”

The Realm Trinity Imperial Council met again. Oyed was grinning from ear to ear. “You should have seen the look on Elgrad and Hanako’s faces as I made it clear that they were gonna bury their daughter!” he laughed. “I have NEVER seen anyone fall into despair so quickly!”

“My Lord, this has secured victory for us!” praised Dr. Borg. “The soldiers are dancing in the streets right now!”

“As they should! Oh, I have NEVER felt such joy! The Final War’s going OUR way now! No need for Drows or Shadow Dragons! They can keep the Manticores and Sphinxes! The Gryphons and Gorgons can join Realmfleet! IT WON’T MATTER! WE WILL ALWAYS WIN!” The ale was passed around as Weltam came back in. After Reb stabbed her, she was returned as a Revenant. “Ah! Weltam Forsorna! Come! We’re just celebrating our recent victory!”

“With Arsha dead as a door nail,” giggled Remsu, “we’re all riding on a victory!”

“Yeah, she can’t get any deader than that,” mumbled Weltam as her face faded to a pained smile, she then muttered under her breath “unless we kill her again.”

“…Kill her again?” asked Oyed. Weltam then decided to change the subject.

“Hey, Remsu! You said you wanted to try out a Felansi Dancer’s dress?!” She pulled out a design-book ladened with all sorts of dresses for Felansi dancing.

“Weltam,” called Oyed.

“I was thinking this design has enough frills at the hem for a little exciting flash as you swish them.”


“Although, I must admit, that design looks a little more flattering on someone who’s a little more, erm, how do I put this politely…larger in the waist.” Oyed then snatched the book out of Weltam’s hands as everyone glared at her.

“I DID kill Arsha, right?” asked Oyed. “Tell us Arsha’s dead. We all need to hear these words.”

“…Did…did you have to hear all those…words…exactly?” Dr. Borg’s metal hand then grabbed Weltam’s shirt and yanked her towards her face.

“She’s still alive?!” snarled the Cyborg Sprite through gritted teeth. By now, everyone was very, VERY angry!

“One of our operatives,” sighed Weltam as she told the truth, “saw Falheem whip out Arsha’s soul loom in front of her parents, lovers, and potential in-laws. It’s still weaving itself.”

“Oyed!” Dr. Borg turned her gaze to the Titan as she shoved Weltam back.

“I mean, with the amount of wounds I gave her, not even a Champion’s Aura should have saved her!” protested Oyed. “Gravity can still kill someone at that height! Weltam, of all the times to deliver this news…!”

“Hey, don’t kill the messenger!” gulped Weltam. “I just though we should prepare for her return!”

“She CAN’T return!” growled Tormo.

“I guess it WOULD be a setback, after Oyed’s address to the Realms.”

“YOU THINK?!” roared Oyed. He then turned to his minions. “You and I are all gonna search every zarruk of the Over-realm! If she breathes, we’re THROUGH! Now! Let’s! MOVE!”

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

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“OF ALL THE BONE-HEADED CRAP YOU DID, THIS TAKES THE CAKE, ORBAK!” Arsha shouted at the Under-king as he was learning how to pop a wheelie in his new wheelchair.

“I’ve heard that from my own family, the rest of your lovers, your parents, Lardeth’s parents, and Marshii,” grunted Orbak, “and, frankly, that’s too much!” He set the front wheels back down.

“There’s a thing called necessary violence, and what you just did TOOK IT PAST ALL THAT!”

“Arsha, I will bet my crown that YOUR father would do the same thing if he had the same abilities as me!” Orbak grabbed the handles on the driving wheels’ covers and he left the room at the same speed as someone walking. Arsha snarled…then sighed.

“I hate it when you’re right,” she muttered to herself.

“Stubborn man, ain’t he?” asked Malnar as she entered the room.

“He had hobbies, many of them requiring legs.”

“Knowing Daddy, I’m pretty sure he can find a way to at least still be able to bake.” Arsha smiled.

“…It would be nice for that to happen. He’s always loved that.”

The Gorgons and Gryphons met with the Falchineve Driders the next day. They sat down at the table, with some trepidation from the Falchineve delegation. “Your Majesties,” began Hanjar, “our first discussion here was one where we accused you of encroaching on our lands. We believed only your Driders could be capable of such acts. …We were proven wrong. Someone played on our pride and hid the details from us. Realmfleet then sent those who opened our eyes on who was really behind the encroachment of our lands. For the Gryphons, it was a rogue human, a member of the Under-king’s family, that convinced others that his way was the only way to stay neutral when they would have been the first target. Orbak swiftly dealt with that problem and has given us ideas on how to use the fort for our purposes.”

“For the Gorgons, the object was the result of a careless Realmfleet Captain who ignored the Dwelga Accords and constructed a cloaking device so long ago,” continued Erudsa. “Realmfleet was made ignorant of it thanks to a high-ranking Admiral and now the Supreme Admiral had to clear the mess. We’re using the ship now as a multipurpose facility for housing, gardening, trade, and medical care.”

“But there IS something we need to settle,” supplied Hanjar. “King Hekcho and Queen Yumbii, how can we ever make amends for the slander we threw at you?” The two Driders looked at each other, equally confused.

“I…er…” stammered Hekcho.

“I mean, I suppose…” Yumbii was just as lost for words.

“It’s not our usual manner, we’re aware,” assured Erudsa.

“We have long held the belief that Oyed would settle things quicker than Realmfleet,” explained Hanjar, “but his forces have forgotten us, and we were reduced to a low end on the totem pole. So, if we may be selfish for a bit, we would like to stick it to him.”

“…You know, that’s something we ALL can get behind,” chuckled Yumbii. “Let’s discuss new relations.”

While that went on, Arsha decided to go for a little stroll with her, her lovers, her parents, and her future in-laws. She was feeling very proud of herself. “With the once-buried races now on our side,” she mused aloud, “we actually have a shot at winning this!”

“I know it seems like we’re winning,” cautioned Jeefef, “but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We still need to dismantle Dr. Borg’s economic system.”

“She’s right,” remarked Orbak as Elgrad pushed him along. “We need to keep on our guard. The Blood Contract hasn’t been fulfilled yet.”

“Yeah, but we can smash them at a faster rate now with fewer casualties!” insisted Arsha.

“Are you quite sure of that?” asked a voice. Everyone turned their heads to see Oyed stepping towards them.

“It’s over, Oyed!” proclaimed Arsha. “Your buried races defected to our side!”

“And for that, I am absolutely livid!” snarled the Titan. “However, I’m also impressed. You managed to keep your faith in my children despite what they did to them!”

“They humbled themselves when they realized their mistakes, something REAL Gods do!”

“I AM a real God! I will not bow to any of you defective insects!”

“And that’s why you fail! You believe yourself perfect, but your children don’t see themselves as such. They did, once, but that led to the War of the Depths. They’ve long accepted that they are as imperfect as the rest of us!”

“That is THEIR stupidity! Everything is according to MY design, NOT theirs!” Oyed then fired an energy wave and knocked everyone to the ground. He then spoke in a commanding voice that echoed and froze them all in place, speaking the long, yet powerful speech of the Gods. “I am the First Being: Oyed the Titan, the Father of Gods, who was before the One World before the Realms and made it! The darkness of my design lies upon this fractured world and all that is in it bends to my will in the fullness of time! But, upon you and all whom you love, my desire shall weigh as a cloud of doom, and it shall bring you and your precious ones down to darkness and despair! Wherever you go, you shall be confronted by my warriors and beaten down! Whenever you speak, your words will fall upon deaf ears! Whatever you do, your actions will bear no fruit! You shall die without hope, cursing both life AND death!”

“If that’s your curse,” growled Arsha, “then here’s mine for you, Thrall Oyed! What I say doesn’t come from the teachings of your children, the Divine Ones, but from my heart in this very hour! You are NOT the Master of the Three Mortal and One Immortal Realms and those who dwell within both, and never WILL be! All Realms may yet fall under your dominion, but, beyond the Circles of All Realms, you will not pursue those who refuse you!”

“True, beyond the Circles of All Realms I will not pursue them, for I have no reason to, as beyond the Circles, there is nothing! Within the World, however, none shall escape me until they fade into nothing!” Arsha’s face contorted into angered disbelief.

“You lie as usual!”

“You shall see, and you shall confess that I do NOT lie about this!” Oyed then snapped his fingers and his enemies’ eyes burned for a good minute. Arsha’s, however, did not. She tried to cast healing spells, but it did no good. The treatment stopped and something went wrong. They weren’t seeing their immediate surroundings, but Oyed’s! They could see Arsha leaning over their bodies and could see themselves picking their bodies up.

“Wha…what’s going on?!” demanded Elgrad.

“Look you now through me!” replied Oyed as he advanced on Arsha and grabbed her by the throat, hoisting her above himself and strangling her. “Look as you witness how darkness and despair shall come upon your savior whom you have delivered to me! You have dared to mock me and have questioned the power of Oyed, Master of the Fates of the Realms! Therefore, with my eyes you shall see, and with my ears you shall hear, and the death of your hope will never be hidden from you, even as you shut your eyes!” Oyed then rocketed up to the sky with Arsha in tow, then stopped when he neared the clouds. He then slammed his fist into Arsha’s face, sending her flying straight backwards until Oyed zoomed past her and grabbed her head before pounding her spine. The pain shot straight through Arsha as she cried out. Oyed then continued pummeling her for a good minute until she was covered in bruises, cuts, and her own blood. She was too weak to lift a finger. Oyed then formed a blade of dark mist from his hand and sliced across Arsha’s abdomen before letting her tumble to the ground. He floated there for a minute until he raised his hand to his head. “Did you get all that, Doctor?” he asked.

“Every grisly detail,” confirmed Dr. Borg’s voice. “Good work, My Lord. We’re setting the charges on the Realmgates now.”

“Excellent.” Oyed then vanished and ended his curse on Arsha’s family and lovers. Elgrad and Hanako had long fallen to their knees in disbelief as they saw their daughter defeated in such a violent manner and left for dead.

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“Now, all that’s left,” sighed Empria, “is to disconnect the last two wires, red first, then green.”

“We need to remove the less-active line first,” guessed Twirja, “then the other line can’t complete the circuit.”

“Yes,” answered Empria. Thangred took care of the wires, and the cloaking device was fully disconnected, this time with no explosions. He then noticed a small light fade and opened the device. It looked like a crystal was inside.

“Ah HA!” he exclaimed. “So THAT’S how it still got power! There’s an Engine Crystal inside it!”

“That must be why it exploded during the first attempt,” mused Twirja.

“That’s why I was so against them disconnecting it in the first place,” explained Empria. “You boys worked with plenty of Engine Crystals in your day. You know how reactive they are if they’re not disconnected properly.”

“Hoo BOY, do I!” agreed Thangred. He got to work extracting the crystal and placed it in a safe-box once he was done. “Now this thing can be destroyed without…” He then heard the sound of a spell charging up. “…That better be you, Twirja.”

“Sorry to disappoint,” muttered Twirja as he raised his hand over his head. Thangred did the same as he got up and both of them looked to Empria as she pointed her wand at them. “Madam, what do you hope to accomplish?” asked Twirja.

“I am finished now, you lot have ruined me,” replied Empria. “Thanks to you, my name is forever shamed! But, if you and I keep the workings of the thing to ourselves, we can be RICH!”

“It’s a bit late for that!” remarked Thangred. “I already copied over the schematics and gave them to Aldarval and Endram! There’s no point to this!”

“…Do you have any idea how unstable you’ve made the Realms?” asked Empria as tears streamed down her face. “You DO realize some of the mutineers survived?!” Twirja’s eyes went wide.

“They’re…they’re alive?!”

“And some of the survivors joined Oyed’s side! Once this gets out to our side, there will be a mass exodus of people flocking to the Realm Trinity Empire!”

“You don’t know that.”

“What other conclusion can be reached?!”

“You use that phrase too often for my tastes. Not only are you a traitor, but you’re also a coward.”

“THAT’S IT!” Empria fired, distracting the two men, and taking the cloaking device.

“STOP!” called Thangred. She didn’t listen as she tore down the hallways of her old ship. As she ran, she bumped into Erudsa and Aldarval. She dropped the device and tried to pick it up, but Erudsa grabbed her wrist and forced her to look into her eyes. They glowed yellow, she hissed, and the snakes making up her hair then all faced her and hissed, their own eyes glowing yellow as well. At that point, Empria felt something rocklike on her body. She looked down and her eyes widened in horror as she realized she was turning to stone! She then stood there, a gray, rocky statue with the eyes still moving.

“You will be released once the prison transport arrives,” hissed Erudsa.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Gorgon perform their trademark petrification stare,” mused Aldarval. Erudsa then wobbled. Aldarval caught her before she fell to the ground.

“It…requires…concentration,” panted the Gorgon Queen.

“A lot of it, by the look of things.”

The prison transport arrived and Empria was placed into it before Erudsa and her snake hair stared at her with green eyes instead of yellow. The stone crumbled away and released Empria. The former Captain of the Crelima glared at Erudsa and growled, then proceeded to growl at Aldarval. The transport then shut its doors and then took off. “With all that you’ve shown me,” Erudsa chuckled to Aldarval, “I think we can easily repurpose the Crelima now that we can see the doors.” The Crelima was being looked over by a troop of Gorgons. “Aldarval, thank you for what you’ve done. You’ve prevented a nasty war between us and the Falchineve Colony.”

“I hope the same can be said of the Gryphons,” muttered Aldarval.

“Given who surrounds you, I think it can.” Erudsa then remembered something. “We MUST give credit where credit is due for the woman who came up with this team formation.”

“Indeed, we should. Captain Royana, would you come here for a minute?” Arsha then approached them.

“Yes, Admiral?” she asked.

“Arsha, you are a credit to Realmfleet,” praised Erudsa. “You organized a team that solved a problem in a satisfactory manner and brought the truth to light.”

“That’s what I always strive to do, Your Majesty.”

“For that, you need to be rewarded.”

“There’s no need, I simply did my duty.”

“Humble as well, I like that. In this instance, though, I must insist. You shall be the first non-Gorgon to be awarded the medal of the Diamond Scale.” Erudsa then pulled out a scale shaped diamond tied by a strap. She placed the medal around Arsha’s neck, then bowed to her. “Let this be the action that signifies the Gorgon race’s willingness to fight against Oyed!”

“…Your Majesty, I am honored,” thanked Arsha. Aldarval then got a call.

“…What?! How did…?! …Oh my, can he…? …No?” Aldarval sighed. “Where is he? …By Gryphon? …So they ARE joining us against Oyed? …Good to hear, I just wish he hadn’t done that. We’ll be there straight away, Aldarval out.” She hung up and sighed again.

“Admiral?” asked Arsha.

“The Gryphons took over the fort and are flying the Realmfleet banner,” explained Aldarval. “They’re joining us against Oyed.”

“Perfect!” cheered Arsha. She then recalled what happened during the call. “…Was there a casualty?”

“None of the team you put together lost their lives…but Orbak lost the use of his legs.”


“He’s in the Endeavor’s Sick Bay. We need to go back there now and get the whole story.”

“Me and my guards shall escort you back,” offered Erudsa. “I would like to know this story myself. After that, Hanjar and I will meet with Hekcho and Yumbii to apologize for our rash actions and how we can make reparations.”

“Then let’s get going,” suggested Arsha. “I want answers. …Ones, who knows what Malnar’s feeling! Did she even see it happen?!”

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Everyone was in the Crelima’s conference room. Enough power was restored so Endram could display the cloaking device’s schematics. “I must say, this is quite the device,” muttered Endram. “Pity that such a thing is illegal.”

“WAS illegal,” argued Empria.

“Last I checked, the Dwelga Accords are still in effect,” remarked Arsha.

“Look, every second I worked on that project, a piece of me died, but this is war, and we need all the advantages we can get. You know the Scorpion has a cloaking device. We need to level the playing field!”

“If this device were constructed during the Final War,” growled Aldarval, “perhaps I WOULD have authorized it, with the Imperium’s permission and that of all the Royal Families.”

“However, that thing,” continued Elgrad, “was constructed before me and my fellows declared war. 500 years before that, if I’m reading the dates on the schematics right.”

“Realmfleet Regulation 9, Paragraph 4,” quoted Empria, “in the event of war, all factors must be considered, and certain treaties may be suspended!”

“At the determination of the Supreme Admiral,” reminded Aldarval, “and we weren’t at war 500 years ago!”

“In my judgement, we were!”

“At war?!” asked Bashoon. “Who was the enemy?! When did the All-realm Royals declare war in that time?!”

“Pirates and Splitters, that’s who!” answered Empria.

“As Bashoon mentioned,” remarked Olmarfa, “we didn’t declare war on them!”

“We were trying to lock them all up, what other conclusion could be reached?! It was the only chance we had to end their threat quickly!”

“And where did you obtain this permission to violate the Dwelga Accords?”

“From Rooshee! Who else?!”

“Rooshee!” grunted Bashoon. “How many illegal operations did she have her fingers in?!”

“Empria, there was a mutiny you asked me and Twirja to help cover up!” hissed Endram. “I want to know the details of that mutiny! I want to know why we were tricked into sacrificing our arms for a damn cloaking device!”

“We had others helping us get you out of this boat!” roared Twirja. “Start talking!” Empria sighed.

“As I said, Rooshee, with permission from then-Chancellor Garsheek, authorized me to construct a cloaking device. She told me that it was a tenth level code black operation as she didn’t want everyone to know about our breach just yet until I reported the results. …Unfortunately, one of my lieutenants, an Incubus by the name of Rolto, managed to find the schematics. I told him that we needed to stay secret about this, but he had a Goblin husband at the time, a high-ranking politician, and felt his loyalties to him were greater than his oath to Realmfleet. He copied the schematics and was about to transmit them to his husband, but a security team managed to intercept the transmission, prevent it from being completed, and traced it to him. I had him stripped of rank and thrown in the brig. The problem was, he told other people before he was arrested. They broke him out and staged a mutiny. …I think Endram and Twirja can explain the rest.”

“We’re not letting you off that easy!” snarled Endram. “As your King, I’m ordering YOU to finish the story!” Empria sighed before continuing.

“The cloaking device was wired to the engines. I was the only one who could shut it down safely, but the mutineers wouldn’t listen. I got others on my side, particularly those that I gave clearance to know about the project, and we tried to stop them from disconnecting the device, but it was too late. The explosion took the mutineers’ lives, and the shrapnel took the lives of a few on my side while harming the others, Endram and Twirja being the most immediate examples.”

“Rolto was my best friend in Realmfleet, and you made me deaf to his explanations!” snarled Twirja.

“You made a good deal of us turn on our friends,” continued Endram, “and break our oath to preserve the peace of the Realms both from without AND within! You made us turn on our brothers and sisters as they were trying to correct a wrong!”

“Every day, I honored your sacrifice, old friend!” pleaded Empria. Twirja then grabbed her by the front of her dress and brought her to his face.


“TWIRJA! PUT HER DOWN!” shouted Endram. Twirja glared at Endram, then put her back in her seat.

“Empria Dewlna, if this ship is still under the effects of the cloaking device, then you will tell us how to uninstall it. After that, we’re going to destroy it.”

“You can’t do that!” protested Empria. “If the Imperium hears of this…!”

“They already have!” interjected Bashoon. “I had a line open for Chancellor Penshek and he’s already met with the Majestics. They’re going along with the decisions of Realmfleet and the Over-realm Royal Family on this matter.”

“In that case, Empria Dewlna,” proclaimed Endram, “you are charged with violation of the Dwelga Accords. As King of the Over-realm, I’m placing you under arrest! You will instruct Thangred on how to uninstall the cloaking device safely, so we don’t have another explosion. After which, you will be relieved of your titles and land as you will live the rest of your life in prison!”

“Your Majesty, I wish to join them,” called Twirja, “I want to see that thing destroyed once it’s removed.” Endram turned to Denstra.

“Your Majesty, give him that form of peace,” she urged. “It’s been haunting him for too long.”

“Very well. Know this, Empria, those that knew about this and still helped you despite that knowledge will be punished as well.”

“Your Majesty, please, show them leniency!” pleaded Empria. “Like you, they were acting under my orders!”

“Then they made the same mistake as Twirja and I have done! Thangred, Twirja, take her to the engine room!” Thangred and Twirja flanked Empria as she remained in her seat for only a few seconds. She then stood up and headed to the door with the two men behind her. She stopped and turned back to look at Endram.

“The Final War would have been over a lot quicker,” she remarked. “You just extended it by two years.” She then left them with Thangred and Twirja following close behind. Aldarval sat down, then ran her hands down her face. Erudsa then placed a sympathetic hand on the Troll’s shoulder.

“I went through a similar incident once I became Queen,” she remarked. “It’s tough when those you trust betray you like that.”

“…Yeah, it is,” sighed Aldarval.

“There IS one upside to all this.”

“What’s that?”

“You’ve proved that you want all of Realmfleet to adhere to the principles it’s set out. That’s the mark of a good leader. This affair may not be formerly settled, but we ARE allies.”

“You mean, you’re going against Oyed?”

“Until the end of time!”

“You won’t regret this, I promise!”

“With leaders like you , I don’t think I will!”

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Thangred continued fiddling with the electronics inside the console. As he worked, he muttered Dwarven curses to himself. “I worked on this kind of console all the time on the Endeavor!” he grunted. “Why’s this one giving me grief?!”

“Hey, should that green thing be tilted?” asked Twirja. He pointed to a green piece of electronic circuitry.

“…As a matter of fact, no, it shouldn’t,” remarked Thangred. He then turned it to a horizontal position and the console came to life. “The data-linkage, of COURSE! Thanks, Twirja!”

“Any time.” Thangred then typed away at the console and went through file after file until he came to something that was restricted, something called “Project: Veil”

“Damn!” he swore. “I hoped there wasn’t anything secret!”

“Let me try,” offered Endram.

“Enny, with all due respect, there’s no way the computer’s going to recognize your override code,” argued Twirja.

“I think it will. With the Endeavor in the area, it should read on what’s the up-to-date codes since the last update. Given that Dauntless-class vessel computers always check each other, I think it should work.” Endram then typed in a code for the files. A loading screen then popped up. “GAH! COME ON!”

“Loading screens: the bane of all technology lovers,” chuckled Thangred. It took two minutes for the screen to change. Once it did, the new screen read “Access Granted”.

“Perfect!” cheered Endram. “Tenth level code black, my ass!” He typed away and opened up tech specs. As he looked at them, his brow furrowed. “…Thangred, what’s your opinion on this?” Thangred got a look and goggled in horror.

“Pre-made light refraction spells, spell-diffusors made for the outside of a hull, Endram, this is a severe breach of the Dwelga Accords if I ever saw one!”

“A breach of the…” Twirja then realized what the schematics were for. “…Are you telling me…?!”

“I’m getting an arrest warrant for Empria!” snarled Endram as he began a call to Realmfleet.

“My council has heard something about a treaty known as the Dwelga Accords,” Erudsa remarked to Aldarval as they investigated the Sick Bay for use as a potential infirmary.

“Oh, that? That was a treaty signed during the First Age,” explained Aldarval.

“What are the specifics?”

“Well, before all that, I need to explain the history surrounding it.”

“I’m a bit of a history buff. Please, explain.” Aldarval took a deep breath before beginning the story.

“It was during the First Age of Unity when it all started. Back then, when the Goblins were first using the Realmgates, they had constructed machines that could make a ship look invisible, using pre-casted spells and machinery woven throughout the ship’s hull. They weren’t on good terms with the earliest iteration of Realmfleet, the Realm Skyship Federation, as they used to be raiders.”

“Raiders? What would they raid for?”

“All sorts of valuable objects, food, water, money, all that stuff. However, then came the Raider Skirmishes. For a while, both sides used these cloaking devices to attack each other, but the people hated the guerilla tactics used by both sides, so the royal families of all Realms stepped in and forced both the Federation and the Goblin Imperium to talk. Eventually, both sides agreed to end the construction and use of ship-board cloaking devices and signed the Dwelga Accords. The royal families signed the treaty as well. Now, any ship using such a device is to be considered crewed by pirates and everyone will be arrested with a maximum penalty of a life sentence.” Erudsa thought on what Aldarval had said.

“…Harsh, but fair. You know, I think the Gorgons would benefit from signing this treaty. Is there room for my signature?”

“There should be. The Treaty is self-updating, so each signature changes to the current ruler.

“Perfect, then after this mess, I will…” Erudsa was interrupted as Aldarval’s badge chimed.

“What in…?” Aldarval opened her badge and read the notification. Her eyes went wide as she reread it twice over. “…I don’t believe it!” She showed the notification to Erudsa.

“…I thought Realmfleet was bound by the Dwelga Accords!”

“We are. This is us only now fixing an oversight! I can’t believe this! Right under my nose! I let that silver-tongued idiot convince me to not look too deeply into this! Her use of a tenth level code black should have alerted me from day one!”

“What will you do to fix it?” asked the Gorgon Queen.

“At the moment, corner her and place her under arrest!”

“Drows and Shadow Dragons?” Empria asked Arsha as they searched another room near the bridge. “I thought they were extinct.”

“For a while, Dalengor hoped so,” replied Arsha. “That is, until she convinced them to join us as Oyed only saw them as a tool.”

“So, they’re fighting for the Under-realm right now?”

“Yep. …Although, Mordek DID suffer a bit. Don’t get me wrong, it was necessary, but it somehow felt…weird to see a God humbled like that.”

“I must admit, I never thought they were capable of wrong.”

“Well, apparently, they are. From what Mordek said, he wronged my first ancestor, Mortak, as she led a successful slave revolt and became the Queen of the Mid-realm.”

“So, your family was wronged by the Divine Ones?”

“I’m surprised Mortak never mentioned it in her diary, though.” As they searched, they heard footsteps. The whole group turned to see Aldarval, Erudsa, Endram, Twirja, and Thangred approaching them, with Aldarval leveling her wand at Empria.

“Lady Empria Dewlna, you’ve got some explaining to do!” she snarled.

“Admiral, what ARE you talking about?” asked Empria. “And what’s with the wand business? Do you REALLY need to point it at me?”

“Considering that we learned what Project: Veil was, yes!” snarled Endram.

“I can’t believe you!” growled Twirja. “Endram and I lost our arms over a Ones-damned CLOAKING DEVICE?!”

“…You poked your nose into the wrong files, Enny,” grunted Empria.

“The correct form of address is ‘Your Majesty’!”

“Hold on, did I hear that right?!” snarled Bashoon. “Is that why this boat’s invisible?! Realmfleet was constructing a cloaking device?!”

“Empria will explain the story,” hissed Endram as he went behind Empria and grabbed her shoulders.

“…You just lost all the respect I had for you, Endram!” growled Empria.

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While the fort affair went down, Erudsa led Aldarval’s team to the site of the invisible object. It was in a rocky space between mountains. “Here we are,” announced Erudsa. There was an outline around the object’s crater. The impression it made looked a lot like the keel of a Dauntless-class skyship.

“Ah, Crelima, old friend!” sighed Empria.

“If it IS the Crelima,” countered Arsha.

“Has anyone attempted to find an entrance point?” Aldarval asked Erudsa.

“We’ve been trying,” answered Erudsa, “but we haven’t found one. If there IS one, we need your help in locating it.”

“Let me do it,” offered Endram. “My arms can pick up variances in vibrations. It should help me find a way in.”

“How, by knocking on it?” snarked Erudsa.

“Yep.” Endram then climbed up the object and began tapping his fist on it.

“…I was joking!”

“He wasn’t,” chuckled Roomef. As Endram tapped around, he felt something odd.

“Oh?” he tapped some more, then felt around and grinned. “Maintenance hatch! Big enough for a Giant to go through!” he called down.

“Meaning that the door’s too big for oyu to lift?” asked Erudsa.

“Not with the spell I’ve got in mind!”

“Your Majesty, wait!” called Aldarval. “Giant’s Might only works on organic arms! It’ll destroy cybernetic ones! Let me up there! I’LL open it!” She climbed up to Endram’s position and made a magic circle in the air. “Alsantho TERAK!” she chanted as she thrust her hands into the circle. Her arms were then coated in a green aura, and she felt around for the hatch handle. When she found it, she turned it counterclockwise, then felt around the left of the handle for a gap. The instant she found it, she dug her fingers into it, then lifted the door up until it was standing upright. Where once nothing could be seen, now a massive tube going down with machinery appeared out of thin air!

“Okay, that’s freaky, no matter how you slice it,” muttered Bashoon on the bottom. Aldarval, Empria, and Erudsa led the party into the tube once Aldarval cancelled her spell. They climbed down for a good minute until they reached another door. This time, Aldarval only needed gravity to open it once she twisted the handle. Everyone then cautiously climbed down and, even though the only source of light came from the maintenance hatch, Arsha could see that it was the bridge of a Dauntless-class vessel.

“Well, at least we know what kind of ship it was,” she muttered.

“So why is this ship invisible?” asked Erudsa.

“No clue, but we WILL get to the bottom of this.”

“LOOK!” called Empria. She dashed toward the light and showed off something to everyone. It was a dedication plaque for the ship. The name was emblazoned in gold, clearly showing that it was the Crelima!

“I don’t believe it!” breathed Aldarval. “You were right!” Empria then sat in the Captain’s Chair and stroked the armrest.

“Hello, old friend,” she sighed. “I’m sorry we had to leave you like that.”

“So it IS a ship,” muttered Erudsa. “But, there IS the question of why it’s invisible.”

“I heard a story,” remarked Twirja. “Apparently, there was some weird experiment going on. I suppose, when it crashed, the experiment went wrong. Now, if it’s stripped of sensitive components, we can easily make a sector of the ship perfect for farming.”

“…You can do that?” asked Erudsa.

“Just farming?” asked Aldarval. “We can turn it into a whole multi-functional complex. Shopping, medical care, clothes-making, you name it, there’s room for it.”

“You would give this ship to us willingly?” asked Erudsa.

“In a heartbeat.”

“…You know, I rather like that. However, my people WILL need to see it first before they can use it. Once they can, we join you.”

“You mean…?”

“This is a step in the right direction for our people, but we need to see it all the way through.”

“Is that…REALLY necessary?” asked Empria.

“As commander of this mission, I say yes,” answered Aldarval. “Thangred, Endram, Twirja, I need you to check the computer core, see if you can try to pull up the ship’s logs.”

“We can try,” replied Thangred, “but with how long it’s been since the crash, the logs will have decayed beyond recovery, in all likelihood.”

“Then I guess there’s no hope,” sighed Empria. “Oh well, them’s the breaks.”

“That doesn’t mean we’re not gonna try,” countered Endram. Empria twitched.

“Excellent,” praised Aldarval. Thangred, Endram, and Twirja then headed out of the bridge. They had to manually open the door to leave.

“Aldarval, I really must protest this poking around!” hissed Empria. “This is a tenth level code black matter! Knock it off!”

“Not until Erudsa is satisfied!” growled Aldarval. “Speaking of which, Erudsa, will you come with me? I think we need to have an initial plan on how this thing will serve multiple Gorgon trades best.”

“An excellent idea,” agreed Erudsa. “Lead on.”

“Arsha, you’re in charge of the remaining forces,” ordered Aldarval. “Inform me of any incidents.”

“Aye, Admiral,” answered Arsha. Aldarval and Erudsa then left the bridge.

“Arsha, old friend, we don’t need to dig too deep!” begged Empria.

“The thing is, I need to know why the Crelima’s invisible,” replied Arsha. “It’s a Royana thing to figure out secrets. Speaking of which, Daddy, Denstra, you two search the Captain’s Ready Room. The rest of us will search the bridge.”

“Got it,” replied Elgrad. He and Denstra opened the door to the Captain’s Ready Room while everyone else searched the bridge. Concealed cabinets were opened, chairs were turned over, and computer consoles were opened, but nothing came of the search. After a good two minutes, Elgrad and Denstra came back.

“Nothing, Captain,” reported Denstra. “Not even a cushion out of place.”

“This is a big ship,” remarked Arsha. “We search the rooms near the bridge! Let’s move out!” Everyone then left the bridge.

In the Engine Room, Thangred, Endram, and Twirja opened up a control console for the computer core. “It looks like there’s still power here,” muttered Twirja.

“Power that can be accessed,” observed Endram.

“Then let’s access it,” declared Thangred as he got his tools out.

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The treatment lasted for only a few seconds before Orbak collapsed to the ground. He panted as he grabbed his leg. He then noticed something…or rather, a lack of something. Marshii finished treating Malnar, then they both ran up to him. Marshii waved a scanner near his legs, then her face fell. “All nerve endings below the knee are severed,” she reported. “He’s paralyzed.”

“Daddy, what in the Depths!” demanded Malnar. “There was no reason to do that!”

“No reason?!” growled Orbak. “Barath harmed you!”

“Er, technically speaking, I harmed her,” gulped the Troll.

“You were controlled,” dismissed Orbak. “He still harmed Malnar through you!”

“And thanks to your recklessness, Daddy,” snarled Malnar, “you’ve lost the ability to walk!”

“Thus always to those who harm my family! That’s why I signed that Blood Contract in the first place!” Orbak showed off the back of his hand to reveal his signature still scarred onto it.

“I signed that same thing!” Malnar showed her own hand. “And I didn’t sign it just so you could do this! This will hamper your ability to beat Oyed!”

“No, Malnar, this won’t. Not if I choose the right help.”


“Come now, the contract didn’t say I couldn’t get help. As such, it’s not weaseling out of it. My life is not yet forfeit.”

“Could someone explain this ‘blood contract’ to me?” asked Hanjar.

“We swore that we would stop the Realm Trinity Empire and put our lives on the line to prevent us from reneging on it,” explained Malnar. “If we fail, we die of a heart attack.”

“…You’re willing to sacrifice yourselves?”

“The Realms MUST be freed from Oyed, in our eyes.”

“…While two of my men bring your doctor and father back to your ship, my son will take over as you show him what the Realmfleet symbol looks like so he can fly it as well as our banner over this fort.”

“Wait, then this means…?” asked Orbak.

“It means that Oyed has failed us for the final time and this nasty affair is settled in my eyes. The Gryphons are joining you, so you WON’T lose your life to the Blood Contract. You have identified a mess and cleaned it up beautifully. You have an ally in me, King Orbak Emboramii, the wisest, most fatherly, and most powerful of all the Under-realm.”

“You flatter me, King Hanjar.”

“Please, no need to use my title. We are now friends.”

“In that case, I must ask the same of you.”

“…Very well, Orbak!” He then turned to two Gryphons. “You two, get him and Dr. Marshii back to their ship!”

“Yes, My Lord!” replied one of the Gryphons as he and his partner picked them up and put them on their backs. Before they left, they heard something.

“…Is…is that…weeping?” asked the other Gryphon. Malnar then pointed to Barath.

“I don’t want the fort!” he blubbered. “I don’t want the fort! I never wanted the fort! I never wanted the fort! I want nothing to do with the fort! You can have it, it’s YOUR fort, all right?! YOUR fort! I don’t want the fort! I’m not trying to take the fort! I would never try to take the fort! Would you just keep the bloody fort?!”

“Is…is that Barath?!” asked Marshii.

“No, just a shadow of him!” shuddered Malnar. “Daddy, you did more than shame him! You BROKE him!”

“…I’d rather die than live like that!” gulped the Gryphon carrying Orbak.

“Thus always to those who harm people that are precious to me,” remarked Orbak.

“…You two better go,” Malnar said to the Gryphons. “And…speak of this to no one.”

“Come on, we better go,” remarked Marshii’s Gryphon. “This place is giving me the creeps now.”

“…You’re a cruel one when push comes to shove, Your Majesty,” Orbak’s Gryphon remarked to the Under-king. The two Gryphons then took off and flew out of the balcony as Hanjar came out to address the crowd below.

“This fortress,” he announced, “as per the arrangement with Orbak and Realmfleet, is now under Gryphon control! A group, originating under the Realmfleet flag, has declared itself faithless to both it and Oyed’s faction! Oyed offered no explanations, Realmfleet offered them in abundance! They declared their intentions to fix this mistake, taking up most of the work while we dealt with matters that are trivial in the long run! That is not to say that we did nothing! We have fought and suffered, but still, we stand! Thanks to Realmfleet, the conspirators have been put to the sword and their leader is a broken mess, as he should be! We now hold this fortress for us AND Realmfleet! Here, the Realm Trinity Empire will find no weakness, no mercy, only the unassailable strength of our fighters! There is no doubt in my mind that Oyed will hear of this and attempt to punish us! He will find himself unable to withstand our fighting skill! In the days ahead, there will be other battles and we will suffer losses, as my ally, Orbak Emboramii, the all-powerful ruler of the Under-realm, has suffered, but we shall use that pain to fuel us in our crusade! Starting today, the Gryphons fight alongside the rulers of all the Realms! THE GRYPHONS FLY THE BANNER OF REALMFLEET!” He then took out a large flag from his backpack, waved it to unfurl it, then slammed it into the floor of the balcony as a wind flew by, waving the flag of Realmfleet. The crowd below cheered as Hanjar spread his wings and grinned. Malnar and the rest of the team saw the whole thing. When they left the fort, Malnar spoke to a Gryphon woman.

“Guy sure knows how to work a crowd,” she muttered.

“That’s why he rules us,” replied the Gryphon. “I heard about what happened to your father. I’m sorry for what he suffered.”

“Knowing him, he’s going to find a way to stay in the fight. He’s not one to let ailments stop him.”

“He’s a man of honor and he’s clearly instilled that same honor into you. You’ll make a fine Queen one day; I hope you know that.”

“Well, I’ll have others to keep me honest if I ever stray.”

“Spoken like a true monarch,” called Hanjar’s voice as he approached the two women. “I believe we are to meet with your friends in Realmfleet to report on what’s happened. Would you like a ride?”

“Your Majesty, I would be honored,” accepted Malnar. Hanjar let her climb onto his back, then they took off.

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Everyone fought their way into the Central Tower’s throne room. Sitting on the throne, a spot reserved for the fort’s Overlord, was the alleged two-headed Troll, a male by the look of things. The figure stood up and grabbed his club. His opponents then drew their weapons. Orbak leveled his blade at the Overlord and gave a look of contempt. “THIS FORT,” he shouted, “IS NOW PROPERTY OF THE GRYPHONS!” One of the heads, wearing a metal helmet, then looked curiously at him, as if examining him. Malnar then noticed that the other head had pure white eyes.

“Daddy!” she whispered as she pointed at the eyes.

“I see them.” The helmeted head was then moving back and forth, then it groaned in frustration.

“Can’t see or hear anything in this!” Just then, the Troll appeared to have sprouted human arms and placed them onto the helmet. Then…the head and arms fell off the back of the Troll’s main body to reveal that it was just a one-headed Troll with a Human on its back!

“I thought something seemed fishy about this!” snarled Orbak. “Which part of my family are you?!”

“Oh, you know,” answered the human as it got the helmet off to reveal a man, “your first cousin twice removed on your dad’s side.” Marshii and Orbak goggled at the man. The man then grinned as he saw Marshii. “Hey! Marshii! Old friend! How’s the Endeavor been?! I heard it became a Mechanica!”

“Barath?!” asked Marshii.

“You know him?!” inquired Orbak.

“We were roommates when we were medical students! Besides, this freak was the head of the Vorkath Monastic Hospital!”

“Oh, yeah, I remember the whole affair. My family shunned him after that.”

“So much to catch up on,” chuckled Barath. “Where do I start?”

“How about your arrest?!” demanded Orbak.

“What, after that affair? My prison shuttle never made it. We got shot down by pirates. One of them hit me on the head with a hammer. But, you know how our family works. Like an Orc, getting hit on the head was a headache at most. You wanna kill us, you gotta take the head clean off. Does the job every time! …Well, most of the time, I think…dunno. Never been really sure about that.”

“Oh, we’re sure it’s all the time!” snarled Razel.

“Allow us to demonstrate!” growled Dazel.

“…You freed them…” gulped Barath to Orbak. He then turned to the Troll. “The Human and Mermaid are friends. The Blenders, watch them! Make sure they don’t do anything suspicious like, you know, KILL me!” Malnar then nodded to her father before he continued his questioning.

“How did you end up here?” asked Orbak.

“Well, after the pirates shot my shuttle down, I was taken prisoner by them. Spent a lot of time in their brig, like, two years. They captured this Troll here a year later. We were cellmates until I gave him a way to spring us out of there! He jumps out, pirates and their respective organs and limbs go flying, now, here we are, the best of friends!” The Troll mumbled something. “I told you, you work for me now, so I’m gonna call you my best friend!” The Troll mumbled again. “You’re right, I SHOULD tell them about the fort. Well, it’s a long story. You see, after the Final War started, we decided to find some place to hole up and wait out the rest of our lives while the Realms died around us. We kept it hidden for about a year until I stupidly forgot to recast a redirection spell, giving way for a Gryphon to find us. The rest is history.”

“You refused the call to arms?!”

“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with staying alive!”

“And you’re a member of my family.” Orbak rolled his eyes at the cowardice on display.

“Well, it’s been nice catching up,” mused Hanjar, “but we just came by to tell you that the fort, as per our arrangement with Orbak, is ours now.”

“Yours?!” Barath laughed. “Oh please! There’s no one in Realmfleet who can put up with being Overlord! It can be a pain in the ass to the uninitiated. You gotta feed your followers, train your followers, make sure you don’t get killed by your followers, it’s a pain.”

“A pain my son believes he can bear. He feels he is ready to try his hand at command and Orbak has told us that, since it’s in Gryphon territory, it’s his to command as the new Overlord.”

“Well, good luck to your son,” wished Orbak. “We’ll just chain Barath up, put him back in prison, and…”

“KILL THEM ALL!” Barath shouted to the Troll. The Troll roared and swung his club into Malnar, breaking her ribs and throwing her into a wall. Orbak then grabbed the Troll’s head and began counter-dominating it.

“You’ve taken your last order from him!” The Troll was then released, and his eyes went back to normal.

“My sincere apologies, My King!” he begged as he fell to his knees, his hands clasped in prayer. “I never meant to…!”

“Out of my way!” Orbak then shoved the Troll aside and went straight for Barath. He charged up lighting in his hands, then fired a large stream of it at Barath. The lighting struck true and threw Barath into the wall. The attack continued, then Barath flung his arms to the side and ended it.

“ENOUGH!” he roared. “YOU ARE ALL BENEATH ME! I am an Emboramii, and I will not be bullied by…!” Orbak then grabbed Barath’s head and slammed him into the wall repeatedly, then stopped only to punch him repeatedly, reducing him into a bloody mess.

“Daddy!” groaned Malnar as Marshii tended to her. Orbak didn’t let up for a good minute. When he stopped, Barath was coughing up blood.

“…Please!” he begged. “Just do it! Kill me already!”

“…You aren’t worth the effort, you coward,” snarled Orbak. He grabbed the side of Barath’s head, his eyes glowed red, and he used his domination voice. “I will not stain my blade with your coward’s blood! You are beneath contempt, pathetic creature!” He then put his other hand to the other side of Barath’s head and pressed hard on it. Barath’s eyes glowed red as he screamed.

“DADDY! NO!” cried Malnar as she got up.

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The Gryphons and other fliers kept the snipers sufficiently distracted. With them having to focus on the fliers, they couldn’t attack those who were banging at the gate. The whole gate was cracking under the pressure of battering rams, a Minotaur, and a Troll. The gate then broke and the army of Orbak’s team and Gryphons then came flooding in! Courtyard after courtyard, they swarmed the fort. “DEFENDERS!” someone called. The Defender Towers opened to reveal large, hulking Trolls.

“AIM FOR THE EYES!” shouted Malak to his team. One of the Defenders then swung his club at Malak. Malak blocked with his own club and the two weapons locked with each other…somehow. Malak then got a good look at his opponent and goggled. The opposing Troll did the same.

“…Malak?!” he asked.

“Mogan?!” replied Malak. “My brother?! What are YOU doing here?! I thought you were imprisoned after the Vorkath Monastic Hospital shut down!”

“Got out for good behavior!” Mogan shoved Malak back. “Thanks to you and your Realmfleet friends, Dad publicly declared me the Talc of the family! My wife divorced me and took my boy! My life was RUINED thanks to you lot!”

“Hey, YOU chose a boss that allowed for inhumane experiments on Chimeras!”

“They weren’t REALLY alive!”

“They were life-forms like you and I! Thanks to the notes on your research, though, Vorkath’s new Crossgene Hospital found quicker, more humane ways to eliminate diseases! You know, ways you were obligated to find!”

“You and I aren’t even human, so we ain’t bound to look for ‘humane’ methods!” Malak growled at that.

“No, we’re not human, but they and us are practically the same when it comes to kindness, so we each need to follow one another’s exam…!”

“Oh, shut UP!” Mogan swung his club, but Malak rolled out of the way. “Always with the moralizing! Always with the ‘love thy neighbor’! I’ve had enough of your mouth, Malak! So, now I’m gonna split your skull open for everyone here to see!”

“You never even had any fighting training! I always said you were an optimist! Know what that is, Brother? It’s about sizing up a situation that’s bloody impossible and saying ‘Yeah, all right! I’ll have a go!’ I’m exactly the same way!” The two brothers then dueled, their clubs trying to score a hit on the other’s body, but each blow was blocked by the other club. At that point, Malak just grabbed Mogan’s club arm, whirled him around so that his back was facing Malak, then bashed him on the head, not hard enough to kill him, just knock him out. Marshii dashed over to see if Malak was alright. “I’m fine, Doctor. It’s my opponent that needs your skills the most.” He then gestured to the unconscious Troll.

“…Is that Mogan?!” asked Marshii.

“Yep, my idiot, amoral brother. Bashed him on the head. Hopefully, I knocked some sense into him.”

“That or gave him a concussion!”

“Come on, it was a light tap on the head!”

“How is an unconscious…?!”

“FOCUS ON THE FIGHT, YOU GIBBERING OAFS!” shouted Hanjar as he brought down another Defender, a Troll/Incubus Blender

“Don’t let up!” called Orbak. “We still have a fight to win!”

“Daddy,” called Malnar, “we got half the Defenders down, but the other two are giving us all kinds of grief! They’re Centaur/Troll Blenders!”

“Oh, Ones!” The two Defenders then charged at them and fired their crossbows. Because their wands were set into them, the weapons fired magic blasts, LARGE magic blasts. They were both women and very angry-looking. “…Razel and Dazel?!” asked Orbak. “You two of all people dare to betray me?!” The two women simply roared and fired. Orbak rolled out of the way.

“Why are their eyes white?” asked Gorfanth. Orbak and Malnar then saw their eyes and their own went wide in realization.

“Domination!” gasped Malnar. “They’re not themselves!”

“Counter-domination should fix it. How good are your domination skills?”

“Never really hoped to use them.”

“Me neither. Here we go!” The two Emboramiis then leapt onto the two women and put their left hands to their targets’ heads. Their eyes then glowed white, and they spoke with commanding voices laced with echoes.

“Your service to the Overlord ends now!” they commanded. Both their eyes and the eyes of the women then flashed before Orbak and Malnar jumped off Razel and Dazel. The two women shook their heads, then turned towards the central tower.

“Bloody Overlord, dominating us like that!” snarled Razel.

“Well, I’ll have words with him!” growled Dazel.

“Get in line, you two. I already called dibs on him,” interjected Orbak.

“So it WAS a counter-domination that freed us,” mused Razel.

“Gotta say, risky business there, choosing the recruit option while someone did to us already,” remarked Dazel.

“Believe it or not, it was the safer option,” replied Malnar.

“Okay, I’m not up on all the tricks of the Emboramiis,” interjected Malak.

“Yes, please enlighten us,” said Hanjar.

“You two, go see if you can break down the Central Tower’s door,” Orbak ordered Razel and Dazel.

“Will do!” obliged Razel.

“Leave it to us,” assured Dazel. “We’ll have that door down quick as!” The two women then high-fived each other.

“The Razzle-dazzle Twins’ Way!” They then charged at the door while Malnar and Orbak explained the nuances of domination.

“The idea behind it,” started Malnar, “is to bend a person’s mind to your will. The really good dominators can make it look like that their target’s always wanted to serve the other. …No one’s been that good for years.”

“Usually, those who at least know how to use the technique,” continued Orbak, “leave a victim with white eyes. No pupils or nothing. When dominating you have three choices. The first is submission, where you get the victim to obey you. The most effective way to end that is to dominate the person again and make them submissive to themselves.”

“The second option is to continue fighting the victim, which results in someone’s death,” Malnar supplied, “and the last…is to shame them. This one comes at personal cost. You’re paralyzed from the knees down forever.”

“…Let us hope we don’t need to shame the Overlord via domination,” mused Hanjar. Just then, there was a splintering sound of wood breaking. Everyone turned to see the Central Tower’s door broken and at Razel and Dazel’s hooves.

“We’re ready!” came Razel’s report.

“And so are we!” declared Orbak. “Inside!” Everyone charged into the Central Tower.

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

3 Realms 4-27

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

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

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

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

“…The One Ruling Three,” growled Orbak.


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

“A mistake?” asked Hanjar.

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

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

“Oh, boy, do I!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And treating with him won’t?”

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

“And they are?”

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

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

“Even one your family concocted?”

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

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

“What was that?!” he demanded.

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

“What did he say?”

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

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

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

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

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