The Endeavor and the High Sky were back in the air and had finally completed a search for a Temporal Stop within the Mid-realm. Sadly, there were no results. They had returned to the Under-realm to search for one there and had begun on the Central Continent and planned to sweep the entire continent, then move west to the Western Continent and search there, then move to the Northern Continent, then the Eastern Continent, and finishing on the Southern Continent. The ships were still searching the Central Continent’s eastern shores as Arsha sat in her ready room, looking out the window and holding herself to try and get some solace that she would see all of her lovers. Her thoughts were interrupted by her door chime. “Yes?” she called.
“It’s Lardeth,” came the reply.
“Come in,” directed Arsha. Lardeth entered the room and moved towards Arsha.
“I’m afraid our ships have turned up nothing on these shores,” sighed Lardeth. “We should check the rest of the…” He was interrupted as Arsha whirled around and immediately hugged him tight. He was a little startled at first, then realized why she hugged him and so enveloped her in his clouds and hugged back. “We’ll get them home,” he promised. “I won’t rest until I know we’re all safe.”
“I just miss them so much,” whimpered Arsha. “Is that so wrong?”
“Not in the slightest,” replied Lardeth in a soothing soft tone. “There is nothing wrong with any of that.”
“Malak to Arsha,” came Malak’s voice over the comms.
“Go ahead,” answered Arsha.
“Rellmeer and Felfar are currently in Crelima City, asking to see you and Lardeth as well as our visitors,” explained Malak. “They say they have people of interest for them.”
“Status of our search here?” quizzed Arsha.
“The Central Continent has no Temporal Stops,” reported Malak. Arsha sighed.
“All right, get us to the Western Continent and start with Crelima City,” she ordered.
“I’ll tell my ship to do the same,” chimed in Lardeth as he pulled back only to place his hands on her shoulders. They said nothing as they looked into one another’s eyes. No words were needed. Both knew how worried the other was for their missing friends. Soon, Lardeth’s clouds released Arsha as he left the room. After three hours, Arsha had directed Hiroki, Sonic, Death, Amy, and Lacey to accompany her and Lardeth. They were transported to the Desert Oasis city of Crelima City once they were over it and started looking for Rellmeer and Felfar. “Felfar is a full Zephyr,” explained Lardeth, “and is usually at Rellmeer’s heels. Rellmeer’s an orange-skinned Fairy, so it should be easy to spot them.”
“This looks pretty big,” mused Hiroki as he looked over the city. “How can we find her with so many…er, what ARE the people with snake tails called again?”
“Nagas,” replied Death. “And Fae should be easy to spot.”
“Hello!” called a woman’s voice. Everyone turned to see an orange-skinned woman in a revealing dress with a Zephyr woman behind her on a cloud leash. The orange woman had wings and a pair of antennae.
“There they are!” announced Arsha. “Everyone, I’d like you to meet Empress Rellmeer Almaydia of the Fae Republic and the head of her Girl-Power Harem, Felfar Malmaf.”
“I suppose you wish to know our names,” offered Hiroki. “I am…”
“Hiroki Hishikawa,” interrupted Rellmeer as her gaze went cold. “I read the reports from Realmfleet. Let’s see, we have Sonic, Amy, Death, and Lacey. Some of the newscasters have said you were upstarts. You were labeled as the ones who were unnecessarily involved in the fight above Largandra.” You could cut the tension with a knife as everyone stared hard at one another. Soon, Rellmeer smiled. “A pleasure to meet you all. If you didn’t intervene, a lot of people in Largandra would be hurt or worse. The real aggressors, Soundwave, Buzzsaw, and Davros, would have caused an unholy amount of damage. Any enemy of evil…” she then held her hand out, “…is a friend of mine!” Hiroki accepted the hand and shook it.
“A pleasure to meet you, My Lady,” he greeted. They released their hands. “I heard from Arsha that you rarely leave your native Realm, much less your people’s capital.”
“Only in times of crisis will I leave the Capital Tree of the Drelda Forest,” replied Rellmeer. “Considering what three new visitors have told me, such a time is coming.”
“Three new visitors?” asked Sonic.
“One wears the warmest of colors and has eyes of a fire’s hot center,” riddled Rellmeer, “one is clothed in the grass’s hues, and one is as graceful as a feline.” The visitors thought for a while until Hiroki realized who she was talking about.
“Tanisha, Alesandro, and Sheela?!” he yelped.
“The same,” confirmed Rellmeer. “Felfar found them last night outside the Capital Tree. They were in a bad way, so we treated them and they explained that they received their injuries while fighting a, er, “Hell Ambassador”, I believe they called their opponent.
“Ambassador Hell!” snarled Hiroki. “Of course, he’d be here!”
“He vanished long before we helped our three visitors,” answered Felfar. “We don’t know where he is.”
“We’ll discuss apprehending him later,” declared Rellmeer. “Right now, our new visitors need to reunite with their friends so I can give them all the information they need to find a way home.”
“You can help us?” asked Amy.
“I’ll tell you everything I know when we’re all gathered,” assured Rellmeer. “Right now, we must go to the Great Lake Bar.”
“Don’t tell Nazay,” Arsha advised, “but Crelima City has the best Naga cuisine of all the Realms.”
“Follow me!” directed Rellmeer. She took Felfar’s cloudy boa and held it like a leash, causing Felfar to giggle a little, and led everyone to a long open bar. They all took their seats and Rellmeer scanned the area before spotting Tanisha, Alesandro, and Sheela. She waved them over and they were reunited with Hiroki’s group. They all then sat down and placed their orders. As they waited, Felfar just rested her head on Rellmeer’s shoulder and wrapped her arms around her. Rellmeer rested her arm on Felfar’s shoulder while her other hand still held the cloudy boa.
“My Lady,” began Death, “you mentioned you had information about how to get us all home?”
“Yes, I did,” chuckled Rellmeer. “Tanisha, sweetie, could you begin? They already know about your fight with the Ambassador.”
“After Ambassador Hell fled,” explained Tanisha, “we all passed out, waking up in a hospital inside the Capital Tree. Apparently, the Fae are masters of size alteration. They shrank us down to their natural height so they could heal us. After we had recovered, Rellmeer came to us with a desire for answers. We told her about the Convergence. She didn’t believe us at first.”
“I think my exact words were ‘Trying to bluff a Fae with sci-fi talk is a risky endeavor’,” recalled Rellmeer. “That was until I saw the news of what happened in Largandra’s airspace.”
“When she did,” continued Tanisha, “she came to us with an apology and offered to assist us in any way she could. I was skeptic, saying ‘Unless you know where to find a Temporal Stop, I don’t think you can’. So far, we’ve yet to find one.”
“I was the one that explained what a Temporal Stop was,” continued Sheela.
“About Ms. Tanisha’s statement,” interjected Rellmeer, “I may need to correct that. You know, the one about having yet to find one?”
“…You found one?!” yelped everyone, aside from Sonic who was still a little uncomfortable with Amy hanging off his arm.
“Where?! When?! How?!” asked Arsha with hope plastering a smile on her face.
“It was within a woodshop in the northern district of the Capital Tree,” explained Rellmeer. “A soldier under my direct command found it and showed me proof of its existing outside of time roughly a day ago.”
“That still begs the question how did the soldier know it was a Temporal Stop?” remarked Alesandro.
“I have brought his proof with me,” replied Rellmeer. “Observe.” She took out a small piece of dusty wood. She then brushed the dust off and, after a few seconds, it returned to its original position. “See?” asked Rellmeer.
“See what?” asked Lardeth, his own grin starting to fade.
“How the dust returned,” explained Rellmeer.
“Yes, yes!” cheered Death. “Only if the object was in a Temporal Stop could it return to its original state!”
“Don’t be so sure,” sighed Arsha as her grin faded, feeling like Rellmeer’s finally losing it. “There are numerous spells to preserve an object’s state.”
“This is no spell!” insisted Rellmeer. “There’s no mana trace to say that it is!”
“Did your scientists figure it out?” asked Arsha.
“No, I KNOW there’s no mana!” urged Rellmeer.
“How?! Not even the Fae can detect mana traces without spells or equipment!” snapped Lardeth.
“I’ll tell you everything on the way back,” assured Rellmeer. “Right now, I need you to confirm my feeling that there is no mana trace!”
“Very well, we’ll have our wizards and artificers look this over when we return to the ships,” declared Lardeth.
“Why not now?” asked Sonic, eager to go home.
“Because, right now,” explained Arsha, “our orders are coming.” A trio of Nagas slithered their way to the group with plates of food ready for them. They had received their meals and dug in.
After the meal, everyone made their way back to the ships and informed the others of the new development. Arsha and Lardeth both contacted Rokalla to tell him that, while Rellmeer’s findings were being confirmed, they would continue their search of the Under-realm and then make their way to the Over-realm and start their search on the Northern Continent. Rokalla then wished them luck and thank them for informing him about the change of plans before ending the call. Lardeth returned to the High Sky while Arsha moved to her ready room, this time looking out the window in hope that Rellmeer was right. As she looked, her door chimed. “Come in,” she directed. Death then entered the room.
“Am I interrupting?” she asked.
“Not at all,” assured Arsha. “What can I do for you?”
“I spoke with your wizards and artificers,” replied Death. “They’ve confirmed that there’s no mana involved in Rellmeer’s proof.”
“Then the question becomes, how do we take advantage of it?” asked Arsha.
“It’s been done before,” answered Death. “I just hope Megumi and her missing people have also come up with the same idea.”
“If they’re your students, then they most likely did,” guessed Arsha. Just then, a small flash of light appeared on her desk before fading into a piece of paper with her name on it written in black and gold. “What in the…?” muttered Arsha. Death looked at the paper before her face lit up.
“Oh, if that’s what I think it is…!” whispered Death. Arsha then opened the paper to read the contents. She noticed trim around the contents of the paper colored in red, blue, purple, pink, and green. Five roses broke up the contents in a circle. Going clockwise, the roses were pink, blue, green, purple, and red. A circle rested in the center of the roses, divided into five and each segment colored the same as the roses.
“‘Arsha Royana,’” she read aloud. “‘You are cordially invited to participate in the 590,492nd Verse Vs. Verse Rumble Royale, graciously hosted by the Chizaran Princesses. Declare (with no doubts in your mind) your acceptance and details will be made clear. Congratulations and, should you accept, welcome!’ …What in the depths?”
“Congratulations!” cheered Death.
“Er, for what?” asked Arsha.
“It’s an honor to be invited to the Verse Vs. Verse Rumble Royale!” replied Death. “It’s a tournament spanning across multiple universes!”
“Okay, so this isn’t a prank?” quizzed Arsha incredulously as she set the invitation down. “This is some sort of no-rules free-for-all?”
“Nope, not a prank,” confirmed Death. “However, there ARE rules to this thing. First rule is the preliminary round. While you ARE invited, the hosts of this whole thing, the Chizarans, have to make sure they made no mistakes and will pit you against another invited champion to test your abilities. Neither victory nor defeat will matter, they just want to know how well you can compete.”
“So, I could win, but the hosts may decide they made a mistake and deny me the chance to compete in favor of the guy I beat?” inquired Arsha.
“It’s happened before,” replied Death. “Sometimes both will be denied the chance or both may be declared participants.”
“What about my duties here?” asked Arsha.
“I’d ask the hosts themselves,” advised Death. “Just hold your invitation and ask your questions.” Arsha then picked up her invitation and looked to the sky.
“Gracious Hosts of this tournament, what impact will this have on my duties here?” she called. Just then, five flashes of pink, purple, green, blue, and red light appeared before fading to reveal the five Chizaran Princesses.
“No need for all that,” chuckled Rosadera. “Just call us by our names.”
“I am Rojenthi, the Red Princess of Chizara, and the war-time leader,” began Rojenthi.
“I am Azuliterii, the Blue Princess of Chizara, and the technological leader,” continued Azuliterii.
“I am Rosadera, the Pink Princess of Chizara, and the peace-time leader,” introduced Rosadera.
“I am Verdutha, the Green Princess of Chizara, and the environmental leader,” called Verdutha.
“And I am Moradelia, the Purple Princess of Chizara, and the history leader,” finished Moradelia. “To answer your question, if you do become a participant, we will alter time in your home universe so you may continue your bout with no interruptions or worries.”
“We understand that mortals like you are busy creatures and we do not wish to interfere with your lives in a negative way,” assured Verdutha.
“Mortals?” repeated Arsha.
“We had long achieved godhood and were subsequently struck with boredom,” explained Azuliterii.
“If you have any further questions, speak now,” directed Rosadera.
“How long do I have to decide?” quizzed Arsha.
“You have until you meet two others that were invited to participate,” replied Rojenthi. “Their names are Optimus Prime and Megumi Hishikawa.”
“It looks like you’re on the right path to meeting them as well as reconnecting with your loved ones,” mused Rosadera. “Any further questions?”
“I think I’m good,” replied Arsha.
“Just a minute,” Death chimed in, “I need to know. What’s First Place prize?”
“We have yet to decide,” explained Rosadera. “You will know once Arsha meets Optimus and Megumi.” The five then vanished, leaving Arsha to ponder.
“I believe congratulations are in order!” cheered Death.
“I haven’t decided yet,” replied Arsha, “but it DOES sound nice.” She got a slight grin on her face as she thought things over.