Alright.  The site is (nearly) completely finished upon the conclusion of the Arquenia Saga.  Downloads section has been updated with PDFs of Books III-IV, as well as a PDF of the whole Arquenia Saga, and I even added a tab under Almanac giving the Arquenian calendar.  I had hoped to post a download link to get the Arquenia Saga on your Kindle, but that's taking longer than expected to convert it into an epub file.  Expect that to be up there within the next couple days.  (EDIT: The Arquenia Saga is now available in Kindle format. Let me know if you have any issues accessing the file.)

In the meantime, I've enjoyed writing the Arquenia Saga these past two years over my Junior and Senior years of highschool.  It came far from where I started two years ago, and I learned some invaluable lessons about repetition and pattern in writing and posting, though I did slip a fair amount, especially while writing Book III this year.  :P  Nevertheless, I enjoyed writing it in serial format.  Like I said in the comments, I don't expect to be writing a new serial anytime soon, at least not until I get adjusted to college schedule this fall, and even then I may wait a couple years before doing something like this again.  Nevertheless, I hope to eventually to do something else like this (I have a couple ideas for alternate stories running around in my head), and hopefully will be able to draw a larger audience when I write again!  Losing my account on TPS hurt readership, I think.

Anyways, thanks to you all for continuing to read it up until the end!  I enjoyed writing and hearing your thoughts on it.

~Josiah
 
 
The last part of the Arquenia Saga.  I hope to have the pdfs of Book III and Book IV up on Saturday as well as my final concluding remarks on the series.  If I don't have enough time to do that on Saturday, expect it by next Wednesday.

Anyways, for those wondering about the calendar, this is set roughly three months after the last part.  Chime in via the comments on who ended up being your favorite character in the Arquenia Saga.  And if you want to hear more about what happens to any of the characters with the close of the Arquenia Saga, I'll answer any of those questions as well.

And so, without any further ado...

Part CXXXVI: The Elven King

Date: Gahan 17th, 115 A.U.

Sereth slowly walked down the still-in-progress courts of the new king of the elves.  She, Hazael, and Cortna had finally left the rebel base two months ago, upon the final settling of the elven kingdom.  Upon Hazael’s near-immediate appointment to the official bodyguard of the king, Sereth had found herself sucked into the court, using her knowledge as an archaeologist to help the newly appointed king find and rebuild the ancient elven cities.  Unofficially, she acted as the head of staff, which, as one of the only staff, meant it was up to her to do nearly all the staff work.

She looked down in her hand at the transcriptions of the latest emails sent to the elven king, that she was now delivering.  A letter from Lord Freglak detailing the state of the rebuilding of the Great Forest.  A letter from Reynyagn, discussing his final reunion with his wife and plans to consolidate all of the wandering Sla’ad tribes back into one republic.  A letter from Governor Astrid, stating the election of a new governor to take her place and her plans to come to visit him as soon as possible, since she had finally permanently retired from her seat of power.  Last of all, and possibly, most important was the letter from Quelia.

Letting the curiosity get the best of her, Sereth shifted the papers to look at the transcript.  It was dictated by Astrid the Healer, now the official spokesperson and ambassador of Flek, the Eighth Watcher.  Astrid was detailing her successful move with Monty to her permanent home in Quelia.  Attached was also a note from the augger of the Xavier Team.  The augger of the Xavier Team, soon after the end of the First Arquenian Council, had decided to name himself Jacob, in honor of his fallen comrade who had died at the hands of Jaigran.  Sereth was still getting used to Augger’s new name.

Putting the transcript back with the other transcripts of emails, Sereth walked out of the un-finished hallway to the almost-finished courtroom of the elven king.  She gave a nod toward Number 994.  Although he was technically the sixth most powerful orc among the Imperial Orcs, Number 994 had decided to forsake the Imperial system, leaving it to act as a counselor for the orcs as a whole as he tried to slowly work to reform the system away from its impersonal nature that solely built them up to be a fighting force, to work to give them back their personal identities.  Although he technically didn’t have a name, merely known among the orcs as “the orc,” he was still known as Number 994 to his friends.

Raising her head, Sereth walked up toward the table where King Zarien now sat, trying to consolidate the provinces under his kingdom.  They exchanged glances as she gave him the transcripts, explaining whom each of them were from.  Flek the Watcher had helped them to finally begin to reconcile their differences concerning Cortna, who was slowly healing, but who was doubted to ever fully recover from Jaigran’s brainwashing.

Zarien nodded to her explanation, smiling, before beckoning her to sit down beside him to help him with his task.  Slowly nodding, Sereth agreed, smiling, as she sat down as they began to work out both his responses to their emails, and his plans for his kingdom.  She bent over his drawings, etching out some ideas of her own, as the night began to wax long, while they still talked, the conversation slowly drifting away from imperial matters to more personal matters.

It was late that night when Sereth finally began to retire to her quarters.  Somewhere within her, an inkling of an idea began to sprung up, a question of whether or not new feelings may or may not have begun to arisen within her.  A glimmer of what might be.  Of whether or not her feelings were as mutual as she thought they were beginning to become.

Maybe she was just mistaken.



But from where he watched, up far above, beyond, and within Arquenia, the Watcher knew that she was not mistaken.  He smiled, as he began to see the beginning of something new, of something the two parties were only beginning to become aware of.  And he sat back within his chambers as he watched with anticipation for it to continue into the blossoming of something greater.

Finis.

 
 
Part CXXXV: The Eighth Watcher

Date: Traje 22nd, 115 A.U.

Members of the Council violently stood up out of their seats in shock as Flek stepped toward them from the closed door into the domain of the Watcher.  Flying out of her seat, Astrid ran toward him in joy, even as Flek put out his hand to stop her.

“Wait!” he said, trying to stop her from embracing him, but too late.  Astrid flew into him, passing through his body, as she tripped, not expecting the lack of resistance, and fell right through Flek to land on the floor behind him.  Murmurs began to whisper throughout the Noon Chamber.

“I…” Astrid looked up, dazed, as Flek knelt down beside her, light wavering as it passed through his body.

“Sorry, Astrid,” Flek whispered, putting his hand upon hers, even as it passed through her hand.  “You…  You may want to sit down again.”  Shaken, Astrid slowly returned to her seat as Flek followed her to stand before the Council.

Reynyagn gazed at Flek.  “I suppose,” he began.  “I suppose that there really is only one rational explanation for this, correct?”

Flek nodded.  “You are correct,” he said, turning to look at the rest of the Council.  “I, Flek, stand before you as the Eighth Watcher and the traditional and rightful head and chairman of the Council of Arquenia.”

“The Eighth Watcher?!” Astrid stood up in alarm as she stared at him, a touch of dread in her voice.

“The Watchers were not always evil,” Flek said confidently.  “Grandine and many of the other auggers in this isle will remember that.  The Watchers were tasked with keeping the planet of Arquenia spinning around the sun, to watch over the world and protect it from harm, and to work to guide the seven races to live together in peace.  For six generations of Watchers, the beings served Arquenia well before the Seventh Watcher, who had originally been an elf named Erzile, was slowly corrupted.  As Grandine proclaimed in the beginning of this meeting, there has been no Arquenian Council on this isle for eight hundred years.  That is because the Great Arquenian War occurred eight hundred years ago, where the races fought against each other.  The isle was deserted, the seven other sacred places of the Watcher were overthrown and left empty, and knowledge of the Watcher was forgotten by all except for a few auggers who dug within their memories. 

“For five hundred years afterward, before the wandering auggers finally migrated here, the Watcher was in isolation, everyone else having forgotten his ways.  From the records I found, he slowly grew cold and bitter, coming to loathe the ones who had forgotten him, the ones he was obligated to protect.  And so he finally began to launch a plan to wrack revenge on those who forgot him.  From what I found, one hundred forty years ago, he was able to successfully possess an orc, and through the orc learned much about the world.  Through the orc whose name is left unknown in Erzile’s records, Erzile the Watcher came in touch with Jaigran, and did what he could to guide Jaigran’s route down the bent path before Erzile’s orc was killed in battle.  His work had been done, though.  And so, upon possessing an elf last year at Tzel-Maret, Erzile was finally able to make contact with Jaigran, whereupon he disclosed to him his full plan, joining him against the rest of Arquenia.  He used his power to keep the world spinning for the opposite purpose, forsaking that power so as to send Arquenia crashing into the sun, which would have happened if they had succeeded.”

Grandine nodded.  “Your account of previous Watchers, and the name of this Watcher, matches our records and memories.”

“But…  but what of you, Flek?” Astrid asked.  “You—you died—I saw you. How…  How did you survive?”

“I…  I didn’t,” Flek said gently.  “As you saw, and as your team mates have explained, I fell into the blue light.  Rippling pain disintegrated my body.  For a while, I thought I was dead before I slowly came to and began the process of discovery.  I have learned that it was through the energy contained in my body that the blue light transfused me into the Watcher.  Since only one Watcher can live at once, and since the last Watcher had left his domain and vacated his seat, the energy removed the power from the Watcher Erzile, destroying him, as well as dissolving the Golden Weapons, which also destroyed Jaigran.

“For the past two months, I have examined the records and tools that Erzile left behind him in the most-Secret domain of the Watcher, the domain even more sacred than the physical domain that Erzile created for Jaigran to unleash his full power.  Through it, I came to realize that I had become the Eighth Watcher, my destiny as the Priest-King.”

“What?!” Zarien looked up at Flek in surprise.  “But…  but you-”

“That’s what Jroldin finally figured out and finally managed to tell me before he died,” Flek replied.  “As the Warrior, I was tempted by Erzile, who had taken semi-possession of my body.  By fulfilling his role as the Priest-King by placing the circlet upon my head to free me from his power, Jroldin not only healed me, but he transferred his role and powers over to me.  Only the Priest-King had the power to become the next Watcher in such a calamitous event.  That was why Jroldin was unable to use the power of the void to teleport us out of the Watcher’s domain, and why I was.  I became both the Warrior, and the Priest-King.”

“The prophesy reveals itself in strange ways…”Reynyagn murmured, and silence reigned upon the chamber.

“The discussion is not supposed to end at my coming,” Flek finally said, striding forward.  “Although I only possess an ethereal body that is constrained to the limits of this chamber, there is yet work to be done—specifically concerning the judgment of the elves.  As the eighth Watcher, I have looked upon the planet for the past two months, and I have seen the facades that Commander Eren has put up as supposedly legitimate trials.”

“But-” Commander Eren began.

“Silence!” Flek proclaimed.  “I have seen you as the Watcher, and so I will proclaim my judgment to be followed by the Council, for that is my duty as the Watcher.  You involved yourself too much in the affairs of the elves while they ruled the skies, and because of that, you still believe in your own racial superiority!  Because of this, not only will another need to take your place as the ruler of the elves, but members of other races will need to stand and bear witness, helping to move the courts to make just decisions.  Am I understood?”

Commander Eren glowered vehemently.  “What else am I to expect from a filthy goblin?” he spat.

Flek twitched his lips.  “Your racial superiority complex at play,” he stated bluntly.  “Is my judgment accepted by the general Council?”

“Some…  Some more specific knowledge of how exactly the justice system has been manipulated would be useful,” Governor Astrid replied.

“Then I will begin the relating of the events,” Flek said, pacing.  “Concerning the trial of Lieutenant Zeran of the elves…”



Flek watched as, the meeting finally adjourned an hour short of midnight, the Council filed out, resolving to come back to discuss the remaining issues the next day.  He waited while the Council filed out, and then slowly exhaled as only he, the Xavier Team, and Monty, were now left.

“Well,” he finally said.  “I’m not sure how prepared I am yet for the duties of this job…  But I’m ready.”

“So…” Astrid began.  “Are you—are you immortal?”

“As long as the world lives, I live as long as I choose,” Flek replied.  “Traditionally, every five hundred to seven hundred years or so, the Watcher will begin to tire of his duties and will elect a new person to take His place.  Erzile had already been the Watcher for close to five hundred years before the Arquenian Civil War.  I suspect that being the Watcher for more than a millennia began to drive him crazy.  Releasing the Watcher involves a similar mechanism that Jaigran and Erzile set up.  The seven golden weapons are used to activate the Watcher and then the spirit of the old Watcher leaves, while the new Watcher takes his place, letting the old Watcher finally die to rest in peace.”

“So there will be more Golden Weapons then,” Reynyagn said.

“Yeah…  once I make them,” Flek said.  “I’m going to try to make them either tomorrow night depending on how late the Council goes, or the day after that, and then give each weapon to the races.  Basically, that mechanism is there to make sure that all members of the Council agree with the identity of the new Watcher.”

Reynaygn pursed his lips, slowly nodding.  “You…  You have a great task ahead of you, Flek.”

“Aye,” Flek said nodding.  “I know.”

“And you’re just constrained to appearing in this chamber?” Astrid asked.

“Not just this chamber,” Flek replied.  “There are seven other places in Arquenia I can appear at, at places where the seven races tended to dwell.  The Citadel of Tzel-Maret was one of them—the Mothertree another one.  There’s a dwarven temple in the mountains known as the Temple of Light that you might have heard of, Astrid, but I don’t think you would have heard of the other places.”

Astrid pursed her lips.  “So…  you’re not really back then…”

“Not…  not in the way you might want,” Flek said quietly.  “I mean, I’ll still be here…  But at the same time, I’m not going to ever be fully back.”

Astrid slowly exhaled.  “I…  I see…”

“You can always visit,” Flek said, smiling.  “I mean, from what I’ve done so far, it looks like I’m always going to have something to do, but I’ll always love to have someone to talk to so I don’t go insane from solitude or anything.”

“Yeah, but…” Astrid’s voice trailed off.  “I don’t know…  It’s just that, in the two months I spent at Araelia…  I didn’t fit.  Even though I’ve been converted, I just can’t walk around the city without being constantly reminded of my crime…”

“What are you saying?”

Astrid shook her head.  “I don’t know, really.  I just…”

“We can talk about it later,” Flek said gently.

“We’ll be here for a good many days anyways,” Reynyagn replied.  “Even after the Council is ended, I believe the six of us will still have much to discuss about our future plans.”

“Yeah,” Flek said.  “Although I think some of us already know what our future plans are, or maybe I’m speaking a bit too presumptuously about the person that’s going to be the future king of the elves.”

“Shut up,” Zarien said, a smile playing across his lips.  “We haven’t had the official vote yet.”

“Yes, but I don’t have to be the Prophet Xavier to know what the outcome will be,” Flek said, grinning.  “Just you wait and watch, Zarien. Just you wait.”

Question of the Day: This is the place for you to ask questions and for me to give answers.  Since I didn't feel like totally info-dumping everything, some parts of how the Watcher works might not be totally clear to you yet.  So ask any question, on the Watcher, or on anything else in Arquenia, and answers I will provide!
 
 
Sorry for this being a day late.  I lost internet access last night when I had been planning on posting this...  :P  And now you thought all the surprises in the Arquenia Saga were over...

For those who are analyzing calendar dates, this post is two months after the last one chronologically in Arquenia.

Part CXXXIV: The Council of Arquenia

Date: Traje 22nd, 115 A.U.

Trumpets blasted in the distance while the drums were beat, creating a symphony of noises that slowly faded into the background as the doors were shut to the Noon-Chamber, leaving the members of the Council to meet in privacy around the Noon-Stone even as the noises could still be faintly heard in the background.

Representatives from all of the races and countries sat upon the thrones and chairs seated around the Noon-Stone: Lord Freglak of the goblins; Rehi Garum, the new chief of the Imperial Orcs; Governor Astrid of the humans; King Ddederaun of the dwarfs; Tzjearjlan of the sla’ad; Commander Eren and rebel leader Rezja of the elves; Grandine of the auggers; and finally, the remaining members of the Xavier Team, along with Monty.

“Welcome to the first meeting of the Arquenian Council for centuries,” Grandine said solemnly as he stood up.  “For years, ever since the great civil war that raged close to eight hundred years ago that broke up the previous council, these seats have sat uninhabited for centuries, the city itself lying waste and dormant before we came, fleeing the augger slayers, to dwell here.  And so, for the first time in 832 years, I call this meeting to order.”  Satisfied, he sat back down in his seat.

“It is fitting that I should speak first,” Commander Eren of the elves said, standing even as he lifted his head up high in a proud stance.  “As the representative and leader of the elves, I have come to tell you that there is no need to pursue further retribution among the elves.  Retribution will be given among our own kind, and those who partook of Jaigran’s faults will be duly punished.”

“With all due respect,” Rezja, leader of the elven rebels said, standing.  “I would hardly trust a previous commander under the Emperor to be found fitting for the task.”

 “Your own kind is not able to solve the pressures alone,” Rehi Garum of the orcs rumbled as he likewise stood.  “Your paltry attempts at a court system so far have found us guilty more often than not in the past two months than of your own kind.  You are hardly able to declare sovereignty over the matters of your own people.”

“My people are well sovereign enough to-” Commander Eren said, raising his voice.

“Silence,” Reynyagn said, standing up and putting an end to the discussion.  “This debate will run its course in the meeting of the council, but the purposes of this council demand an agenda before we get embroiled in heated debate.”

“Thank you, Reynyagn,” Grandine of the auggers said, standing.  “According to the brief communications we have enjoyed before this meeting, the following objectives have been given for this meeting.  First, that the Council hear a full report from the Xavier Team detailing the exact fall of Jaigran.  Second, that a measure would be given as to what consequences, if any, the orcs and the elves will receive.  Third, that requests be heard for any necessary rebuilding that will need to be done under the oversight of the Council.  Lastly, that a regular date and session for the Council of Arquenia would be re-instated.”

“Number 994 and I have been appointed to bring to the Council a full report of the actions of the Xavier Team, beginning with our partial-commencement in Araelia, continuing on to the destruction of the Mothership and the demise of Jaigran,” Reynyagn said.  “We will present to you our full report, and then receive any questions from the Council concerning any details or rationale that they wish to be presented for our actions.  I will henceforth begin with the calling together of the Xavier Team by Governor Astrid…”

 



Grandine slammed his gavel down upon the stone.  “There are henceforth no more inquires made to the Xavier Team for their actions in this meeting, unless further inquiries arise during the presentation of the further elements of the Council,” he proclaimed after the numerous questions had finally ceased.  “We will henceforth move on to the next agenda item: what consequences, if any, the orcs and elves will receive.  The board is opened for discussion.”

“As the chief of the Imperial Orcs, I demand that additional oversight be given to the actions of the elves,” Rehi Garum said, immediately standing up.  “I will not deny the involvement of my race in the actions of the orcs, nor will I deny my own presence among the Imperial Orcs.  However, I am able to go in much detail about what the current court system is that Commander Eren has instituted among the elves, and how they are failing to achieve true justice-”

“The sovereignty of the elves will reign supreme,” Commander Eren snapped, standing up.  “In case anyone here would soon forget it, we are still in charge of numerous elven airships.  The downfall of our greatest ship destroyed the regime, but even without it, we are not altogether lacking in power, along with the rest of our floating cities.  None of us wish war again here, I am sure.  And so to avoid war-”

“To avoid war, you would demand that we turn a blind eye to the instatement of a new elven regime,” Rezja snapped.  “From what I have seen of your rule, I would agree with Rehi that your measures are far from satisfactory.”

“Commander Eren has unwittingly brought forth a strong point that must be discussed,” Governor Astrid said, slowly standing up.  “Although Emperor Jaigran has been defeated, much of his forces still remain, albeit secluded now in the land of the elves.  Peace will not be long held while the elves still outnumber all of the other races one hundred to one in the skies.”

“So you plan to wrack your vengeance for the sins of our former leaders on us,” Commander Eren snapped, glowering vehemently.  “I will not be held accountable for such sins—furthermore then, I declare that-”

“SILENCE!”  A great voice boomed throughout the chamber as all the members of the Council looked around, startled.  They looked around, trying to identify the speaker.

“It would appear that the Council has forgotten, or perhaps dismissed, what had been a central part of the previous Council!” the loud voice continued.  “As a result, allow me to enter this climactic dispute, as the proper chairman, and the overseer, both of this Council, and of Arquenia.” 

The voice dropped off and there was silence as the Council looked around one to another, trying to discover who was speaking.  There was a sizzle, and bright light suddenly poured out, as the Council looked in astonishment to see the doors into the domain of the Watcher slowly open, blinding light coming forth before the doors slowly began to close. 

Astrid blinked, trying to regain her proper sight, as she squinted through the lingering light to make out the figure that had emerged from the domain of the Watcher.  She slowly managed to pick out the features as the remaining light dwindled away.  And then she gasped with realization, along with the rest of the Council, as it suddenly became quite obvious who it was.

And lifting his head up to meet them, Flek stepped forward.


 
 
Slowly rebuilding from the ruins after the explosive climax of the last post.  Expect three more posts after this one as I slowly draw the Arquenia Saga to close.  Also, notice the year change.  I won't go into detail about the Arquenian Calendar (unless you want me to), but Kapton is the last month in the calendar, and each month has 30 days, so following the climax on Kapton 30th, we're moving to a new year and to Morden, the first month.

Part CXXXIII: Song for the Fallen

Date: Morden 2nd, 115 A.U.

A low dirge played across the silent city, even as embers still lingered from the fires that had once besieged the city.  A slow procession moved through the streets, nearly all of them auggers except for the couple faces of those not of their kind.  Heads dipped down in silent sorrow, even as feet moved concealing a joy that they had not felt for a long time.  The procession slowly moved to the great ship ahead of them as, slowly, members boarded the ship even as many auggers stopped, watching in silence as the crew loaded in.  Slowly, the ship’s doors sealed shut and it took off in a quiet hum, rising up off of the ground before flying away into the air, leaving the ruins for the survivors to rebuild.

And a promise to return.

 



Reynyagn gazed out the window of the large front of the ship.  Catan the Silent was driving this vehicle, which his ancestors had built long beforehand in the case of an emergency.  It would be quick, and well-armored in case they ran into any stray elven ships that hadn’t heard of the news of the downfall of their empire.

“It’s…  it’s hard to accept the truth,” Astrid said quietly.

Augger slowly nodded.  “It is,” he said quietly.  “Although the last member to the team, I still had developed close relationships with both of them.  We always knew that death was lurking in the distance…  But I never expected it to take away two team members in one fateful day.”

 “It was perfectly timed…” Reynyagn murmured.

“What?”

“Oh—sorry,” Reynyagn said.  “Not their deaths, mind you…  But just the whole event.  That exactly one hundred fourteen days after the Upheaval, the elves would have been defeated.”

“They had planned the timing,” Monty replied, pursing his lips.  “With everything else that we’ve learned, it seems like they had planned everything down to the exact day when they would be awakening the Watcher.”

“Speaking of things we’ve learned, has anyone been able to contact Iraina yet?” Zarien asked.

“I’ve been trying,” Astrid said quietly.  “No answers, though.  Why do you want to talk to him anyways?  If what you said is true—“

“I don’t want him for the help,” Zarien said, shaking his head.  “Yes, as Unyihi Garum told us, Iraina is a traitor.  But even traitors can be dangerous, even after Jaigran is killed.  I had hoped to try to control him in some way if we got in touch with him.”

“He’s in the middle of Araelia,” Astrid said.  “I doubt that he could do much to sabotage the cause there with all of the rest of our military presence there.”

“True enough…” Zarien said.  “I only wish…”  His voice slowly trailed off into silence.

“Well,” Augger said after a while.  “I didn’t think about it much yesterday, with you guys arriving and all from destroying the Mothership, but I guess I need to get used to your new title, Number 6.”

“Yeah…” the orc replied.  “I…  I don’t know.  After being Number 994 for so long…  Well, it’s a bit jolting to suddenly be promoted by so many titles.  And… well, I dunno.  I mean, I’ve already forsaken all other parts of the orcish system…”

“What are you saying?”

“We’ll just say that I’m still thinking about it,” he replied. “We’re going to have to do something about the rigid orc system.  Even with the destruction of the elven empire, I’m doubting it will be leaving easy.  And since I’m both a member of the Xavier Team, and now one of the most powerful orcs remaining in Arquenia, a lot is going to be hanging on me as we try to figure out what we’re going to do.”

“I see.”

“And what about you?” the orc asked.  “You have name problems of your own, do you not?”

“Yes,” Augger said, slowly nodding.  “I…  I’m not sure yet what I plan on doing.  From my short discussion with Grandine yesterday, I believe that I’ll be reinstated on the island and that the sins of my forefathers will be forgiven, but I will have to do something about my name.  There is much to consider.”

Date: Morden 25th, 115 A.U.

The ship slowly lowered down into the great tunnel that now led directly into Araelia.  Eyes darted around even while hands stood ready at the gun ports as it descended, turning on lights as it went into the dim darkness that surrounded the city.

“I think Iraina was more busy than we thought he was,” Monty said quietly as they moved out of the tunnel to hover over the city.  Slowly, the ship came down to a resting point as the team cautiously got out to look out across the dim city, leaving Catan the Silent behind to maintain and defend the ship, if necessary.  It was silent, even as in the distance they could see partially-destroyed buildings and ruin.

“The city’s…  it’s desolate…” Astrid whispered.

“There are people watching us from the shadows,” Reynyagn murmured.  “I’ll go gain information from them.”


The remaining members of the Xavier Team, along with Monty, slowly walked up the stairs, moving into the door way to arrive in the ransacked room which, although partially-set up, still was a far cry of what the governor’s office used to look like. 

Ex-governor Astrid slumped at a chair across the desk from them.  Oldin, Head of the F.R.I., sat beside her.  They looked up upon seeing them enter. 

“Welcome, Xavier Team,” Astrid said, slowly nodding.  “You have done well in fulfilling your mission.”

“So you know, then?” Astrid the Healer asked.

“Aye…  I do,” Astrid the Governor replied.  “We were able to receive the messages you sent us, but Iraina had damaged our device enough so that we weren’t able to send messages back.”

“Speaking of Iraina…” Reynyagn began.  “The people we talked to were able to give us some information, but-”

“Iraina is gone,” Astrid the Governor replied.  “From what I understand, he began to receive messages from you stating Jaigran’s destruction the first day of this year, but was trying to verify that with external sources before he did anything.  I believe that about the time he learned from the elves above him that the Mothership had been destroyed and the empire collapsed, the dwarves in the mountains had just begun to send out small forces against him.  He had been planning on confronting them before, but, upon learning that Jaigran had been defeated, packed up and left with the rest of the elves, allowing the dwarves to reclaim the city.”

“And you?”

“I was placed back in charge… for the moment,” Astrid the Governor replied softly.  “I do not wish for my position here.  But someone needs to do it for the moment.  Oldin and I have been working at repairing the damage the elves wrought.”  She paused. 

“Where is Jroldin?” Oldin suddenly asked, standing up suddenly upon realizing his absence.

“You didn’t tell them in the messages?” Reynyagn asked, glancing toward Zarien.

“Since Iraina didn’t answer, I didn’t think to do so,” Zarien said.

Reynyagn turned back to Oldin and took a deep breath before beginning.  “Your son…  your son acted valiantly as the Priest-King,” he slowly said.  “He provided us with key insights as the Priest-King and was instrumental in telling Flek what to do to destroy Jaigran and the Watcher.”  He paused, even as he could see that Oldin had already figured it out.  “Your son…” Reynyagn said quietly.  “Your son died a hero, Oldin.  He kept trying, even when he knew he was dead.  And he wanted to let you know…”  Reynyagn’s voice caught.  “He wanted to let you know that he loved you.  And that he was finally ready to be called Jacob.”

 
 
Well, I really didn't hold off on posting this until Saturday (rather than Thursday, like I have been doing) because I wanted to torture you with the weight after the cliff-hanger ending of the last part.  :P  Well, maybe that had something to do with it, but it took me longer to write this post given that (1), it's longer, and (2) it was difficult to write.  And I ended up rewriting the middle-third of it half-way through since I didn't like what I had previously written, so it took me a while...  Anyways, this part is best read while listening to the soundtrack of Inception, particularly the Time piece, so if you have that, I suggest reading it with that background music. 

Anyways, without further ado, I think it's about time to get to our climax, right?

Part CXXXII: Consummation

Date: Kapton 30th, 114 A.U.

“Destroy the world and let it burn…  Let it burn in the fires of the sun forever…”  Emperor Jaigran pointed with his gauntleted hand as lightning rippled out of it, electrifying the hapless augger.  “Quench the fires of opposition and destroy them through the gauntlet,” he murmured as the augger arched his back in pain.  “Put your enemies under your feet…  Destroy your prime adversaries and overcome them…”

 He paused, flying down to meet the augger, now flickering between life and the depths of the unknown.  “I apologize that this had to happen,” he whispered in a smooth voice.  “But where are your protectors now?”


Jroldin lay, breathing softly, on top of the circular stone, a wet line trickling down his face as his hand slowly slipped off the blue void, falling on the cold rock.  Astrid’s face was covered with her hands while Reynyagn stared up at the cracking ceiling as the entire chamber bore the weight of the void outside.

“You…  We…” Flek tried to say, but he pursed his lips in agony.  “No.  It can’t end here.”

“We have no other choice,” Jroldin said softly as he turned to look at him, his shirt smeared with blood.  “I…  I can’t do it, Flek.  I can’t do it!”

“Don’t give up,” Flek said, straining.  “You gave me hope when I had none, Jroldin!  We’ve faced opposition before!  We can’t give up now, even when hope seems lost!”

“But…  but then…” Jroldin said, shaking his grief-stricken head.  “Then we had hope…  then we had…” His voice trailed off.

“Then we thought I was overtaken by the Watcher—we thought the Xavier Team would be broken—but it wasn’t!” Flek pleaded.  “Even in such a situation, we can still-“

“No…” Jroldin said, interrupting.  “Wait…  I…  No…”  He stared at Flek, and his gaze hardened.  “No…  It couldn’t be…”

“What couldn’t be?”

“Catch,” Jroldin gasped out, tossing a tube to Flek.  Flek managed to catch it in his hands, looking at it strangely. 

“It…  It’s what got me out of the chains…” Jroldin gasped as he doubled over in pain.  “Squeeze…  squeeze it on the chains…”  Flek did so, watching the acid dissolve the chain before jerking his hand free, quickly doing it to the next one.

“Here,” he said, handing it to Reynyagn, as he rushed over to support Jroldin, lifting him up.  “We’re not dying like this.”  Up ahead, the ceiling caved in, slowly giving way to the black void. 

“Not me…” Jroldin gasped, clutching his wound.  “I…  The void…”  He pointed.  “Touch the void, Flek.”  Out of the corner of his eye, Flek noticed as Reynyagn, now free, ran forward to grab the corsha blade that the dead Sla’ad assassin held.

“Wh-”

“Just do it!” Jroldin yelled hoarsely.  “Touch it!”  Hesitantly, Flek complied.  He felt the cool surface of the blue void with his fingers and felt the energy running under his fingertips.  The energy beckoned.  And Flek pushed harder, meeting the energy with his fingers even as the void caved in through the ceiling. 

Reality caved inwards.  And, filled with energy, Flek channeled it outward.



Light shone all around them as Flek rose up, gasping, staggering backward as he felt light-headed.  Figures appeared next to him, all lying on the top of the ceiling of the Noon-Chamber, a blue light shining out of the roof next to them from a well of light.  Flek suddenly again was weighted with the body of Jroldin, staggering back again as he tried to hold Jroldin up..

“It—it worked!” Astrid cried out as she looked around, from the skies above, to the burning figure of the Watcher in the midst of the city that lay before them.  “We—are we—”

“We’re on the top of the Noon-Chamber,” Reynyagn responded.  “But how…”  A shadow fell across them.

Just in time, Reynyagn leapt up, swinging his sword up to block the attack of Emperor Jaigran, descending from the sky.  Jaigran landed on the edge of the roof next to them, his eyes vehement with anger.

“How-” he began.  But Reynyagn reacted first, throwing himself forward at the Emperor, crashing into him as he threw the two of them off of the roof, all the while blocking the Emperor’s sword with his own as they fell, pushing away from the Emperor at the last moment as they hit the ground.

Jaigran panted.  “Face it, Reynyagn.  It all ends here.”  Jaigran moved forward, swinging downward even as Reynyagn dodged.  “Must I beat you a second time?”

“One should never be too confident in their abilities,” Reynyagn snapped, panting, as he glanced upward toward the top of the building. 

“You’re one to talk,” Jaigran snapped, faltering as Reynyagn attacked.  Too late, Reynyagn saw the grin on Jaigran’s face.  But Reynyagn ignored it as he stabbed Reynyagn between the neck plates.

Jaigran swallowed hard, masking the pain on his face as he stared down at the blade that now extended through his neck.  But then his eyes glinted.  Moving forward, he kicked Reynyagn hard in the shins before bringing his shield around, bashing Reynyagn on the side of the head as Reynyagn was thrown backwards, stumbling on the ground, the blade now released from the wound.

“Nice try,” Jaigran wheezed as the wound in his neck began to heal, the blood instantly clotting and the skin clinging together.  “But not close enough.  The Golden Armor is too strong for that.”  He looked up toward the quickly advancing Watcher, moving toward them from across the city.  “Pick your killer, Reynyagn.”  And with that, he moved forward.



Flek shook Jroldin as, below, he could hear the sounds of Reynyagn’s duel with Jaigran.  “Wake up, Jroldin,” Flek said, sweat beading down his forehead.  “You can’t go yet, Jroldin.  Keep fighting!”

“I…” Jroldin managed to say as his eyes slowly opened.  He looked around.  “Where…  where are we?”

“We’re above the Noon-Chamber,” Flek said.  “I…  I think I teleported us here.”  He stared at Jroldin.  “But we need to fix you up—now.  We have to stop your bleeding.  You can’t die, yet.  We just need to find a way to leave the city—come back later to stop the Watcher—we-”

“It…”  Jroldin said, a smile slowly breaking onto his face, despite the pain, as he laughed.  Flek stared at him.  “Of course…” Jroldin said.   “How did I not realize it…”

“You’re still wounded and nearly dead,” Astrid said, rushing toward him.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I still have some of my gear, and-”

“No…” Jroldin said, shaking his head as he weakly pushed Astrid away.  “It’s too late—but don’t you see?”  He pointed upward at Flek.  “It’s…  everything’s clear…”  Look—the gem on the circlet—”  He turned to point at the electric blue light that shone from what appeared to be a well that had formed from the top of the roof.  “The colors match—the prophecies of the Priest-King…”

“You need to be healed…” Astrid said, moving closer as she tried to examine Jroldin’s wound.  “You-”

“It’s too late,” Jroldin said, shaking his head as the paleness of his face became evident.  “I…  I’ve lost too much blood, Astrid.  You’re a healer.  You know that—right?”

“No…” Astrid said, chest heaving.  “You can’t—not yet—not now.”

“But I’ve figured it all out in time…” Jroldin said, a small smile forming across his pale lips.

“Figured out what?” Flek asked.

“That…” Jroldin gasped as he reached his hand slowly upwards, resting his hand on the circlet.  “The…  The Priest-King…  He can’t die…”  His gaze met Flek’s as he slowly exhaled.  “You…  You know, Flek…”  Flek stared back at him.  “When…  when it’s all over…  tell my father…”  His voice broke one last time.  “Tell him that I love him…  And that…  Tell him I’m finally ready to be called Jacob.”  And then his head fell to the side as his arms fell, his arms resting on the ceiling.  One last sigh exhaled out of his body.  And his eyes rolled upward in his final rest.

“No…” Astrid whispered hoarsely.  “No!  It can’t…  It’s not over…”

Flek shook uncontrollably as he slowly stood up, laying Jroldin’s body down to rest in the wet sand as the water fell back as part of the tide.  “I…   I know,” he said as he stared at the blue light emitting upward.  “He…  He’s right.”

“He’s right about what?” Astrid cried out.  “He’s dead, Flek!  Jroldin’s dead!”

“We—we must grieve,” Flek said, biting his lip.  “But we have to do so later.  We only have one last chance.”

“One last chance for what?!” Astrid cried.

Flek exhaled sharply.  “One last chance to stop the Watcher,” he said, as his eyes shown with an unearthly vigor.  “It’s all too obvious now.  He figured it out at the last moment to save us all.”

“What are you talking about?!”

“Listen, Astrid,” Flek said as he stumbled forward, laying his hand on her shoulder.  “You have to trust me.  Do you trust me?”

“I…” Astrid said, biting her lip as her eyes rimmed with tears.  “He’s…  he’s…”

“I know he’s dead,” Flek said as he tried to hold back his own tears.  “But we have to do this, Astrid.  We need to do this for Jroldin now, before it’s too late.”  He stepped back, straightening up.  “We don’t have time.  We need to do this now.  Are you with me?”

“With you in what?  We’re doomed!” Astrid cried out as she looked up at the approaching Watcher, his black face now shielding the sun.  “Jroldin dead.  Reynyagn fighting a losing battle with Jaigran.  And the Watcher coming to finish us off!”

“No,” Flek said, standing up as he stepped toward the blue light.  “No.  I know what I have to do.  The only escape—the only way to stop the Watcher.”  He stared downward as Astrid joined him, looking down into a well of blue light that shone out from the depths all the way past them into the heavens.

“What is this?” Astrid asked, nearly shouting, turning toward Flek.  “Why—how will this help?”

“I can’t…  I can’t explain now,” Flek said.  “Astrid…”  He turned toward her, laying a hand on her shoulder.  “Astrid, I just want to let you know…  I just wanted to let you know that I’ll miss you.”

“But…” Astrid said, her face welling up with tears.  “I can’t…  not you, too…” she whispered, her voice breaking.  “Flek…  I-”  She moved forward, embracing the startled goblin.  “I…  I’ll trust…  I have to…”

“Be strong,” Flek whispered as he slowly turned from her to the well, linking hands with her as he stood at the brink of it, staring down into the depths.  His knees trembled and he licked his lips, as Astrid clenched his hand tighter.  There was a guttural roar from behind them.  Astrid didn’t need to look to know whom it was.  And slowly, she released her grip on Flek’s hand.

“Be strong,” she whispered in return, and stepped back.  Astrid watched as Flek closed his eyes.  And stepping forward, he let himself slip, falling into the well of light as Astrid stepped forward, looking down in agony to watch him to descend into the burning light.  He stared upa t her as he fell, lifting up one last hand—one last gesture toward Astrid as light burned away at his lower body, consuming his legs—torso—and then he was all consumed in the burning light.

A cry of anguish escaped Astrid’s lips as she stepped back, turning as she saw the Watcher, now in front of her, extending a burning hand toward her.  The earth shook as the light wavered.  Astrid sank to her knees, removing all worry from her body as peace fell over her, even as the Watcher’s hand moved closer to snuff out her life.

There was a peal of thunder, and the earth snapped.  A tremor threw Astrid to the ground as she looked up at the Watcher.  The light from the well shone brighter, suddenly turning as she could feel the whole planet moving, throttling backwards.  Multiple lights shone out from the well as Astrid shielded her eyes.  She heard a roar of anguish and through the squinting light watched as the lights tore at the Watcher, sucking him into its blue-filled light as he lifted one last faltering arm to the heavens.  And then he too was sucked in with the light as the earth rumbled.

Light exploded from on high as Emperor Jaigran rose again to his knees upon the uaking earth.  Too late, Jaigran looked up, watching in horror as the Watcher gave a roar of anguish, his body melting and blending into the light that sucked him into its swirling vortex as a reed flushed down into a whirlpool. 



Jaigran’s mouth dropped open, staring upward, even as too late, he grasped what had happened.  Reynyagn moved up the ground, surging forward.  And even as Jaigran looked back in horror, Reynyagn thrust his blade into the armor of Jaigran’s breastplate and stabbed Jaigran in the heart.

Jaigran stared back at him, opening his mouth in a howl, the noise of which was sucked away into the wind.  The vortex of light shifted and Jaigran was suddenly lifted up off of his feet, sliding up into the air away from the blade even as blood spurted out of his armor.  Jaigran opened his mouth in a voiceless scream as his body and armor dissolved into the light.  The light rebounded, pouring back in on itself into the well at the top of the Noon-Chamber, flying into it even as it recovered itself, the well spinning as it sealed itself back into the ground where it had come from even as the earth stopped shaking.

And then there was silence.

 
 
Gearing up in the final climax...  For those trying to picture the Watcher, he's somewhat similar to The Shadow in Inkheart (http://villains.wikia.com/wiki/The_Shadow_%28Inkheart%29).  He's a lot more physical (less a smoke-figure) and has more burning lines in him than the Shadow.  But he's something like that...  So if you have a hard time picturing my description, just picture something like that...

And so, without further ado--

Part CXXXI: Awakening

Date: Kapton 30th, 114 A.U.

Streaks of light flew out from the void as the Seven Golden Corsha Weapons were sealed.  Jaigran stepped back in the midst of the dazzling light as he threw his head back, laughing uncontrollably in infamy.  Jroldin struggled at his bonds, trying to reach to his pocket as he brought his leg up, fingers clawing at the pocket to get his tools out.

“This is it!” Jaigran roared as the Golden Weapons shone, casting their golden lights into the blue void.  “I have won!”  There was an eruption as the void pulsed, even as smoke, cinders, and fire began to conglomerate above the void.  Jroldin pulled his tools out of his pocket, his kit that he promised his father he would never travel without, as he painstakingly opened it in his chained hands, grabbing the small tube and, shutting the case and letting it fall into his pocket, squeezing the fluid from the tube onto the metal menacles, watching the fluid dissolve the manacle on his right hand.

“The Watcher is awakened!” Jaigran roared as the smoke, cinders, and fire began to slowly form into a giant humanoid form that stretched upwards towards the roof of the chamber.  Quickly pulling his hand out, the acid only slightly burning his hand, Jroldin squeezed the liquid onto the other manacle, letting it dissolve the metal before jerking his hand out.  He was free.  Jroldin grabbed his knife from his belt, his last weapon, and his last hope of stopping Jaigran. 

“I awaken the Watcher!” Jaigran roared as the humanoid figure stood, dwarfing all of them in the chamber as the Watcher raised his hand upward, a hand made up of the smoking cinders that formed his smoke-filled black body, red creases appearing between the cracks as he gave a roar of triumph.

“No!” Jroldin yelled, leaping forward toward the Emperor.  And, brandishing the knife, he stabbed Jaigran in the back.

There was a sharp intake of breath, and Jaigran stumbled forward, blood spurting from his wound, as he crashed down upon the circular stone full of the Golden Weapons, even as Jroldin drove the knife in harder.

Jaigran rolled over in pain, even as Jroldin drew out the knife, preparing to plunge it into Jaigran’s heart.  Jaigran stared up at him in his malevolent gaze.  And then he lowered his head.

Suddenly, there was a noise, and a flash of light.  Jroldin winced as a piece of glowing golden armor flew past, the armored glove latching onto Jaigran’s hand, even as Jaigran rolled away from him off of the stone.

Pieces of golden armor flew past, the golden weapons disintegrating into armor, even as they latched onto Jaigran, creating his armor as they morphed from corsha into metal, covering his body in the golden armor even as a helmet latched onto his head.  Jaigran lifted out his hand and a golden corsha sword slammed into his hand.  His other hand lifted, and a golden shield flung itself on him, using up the rest of the golden material even as Jroldin stared at him in horror.

“Nice try,” Jaigran whispered.  And then surging forward, he stabbed Jroldin in the chest.

Jroldin faltered, collapsing even as the Watcher stepped down beside Jaigran, his large form condensing into a burning shadowy figure next to Jaigran, about the size of a normal elf.  “Let them perish in my tomb,” he said in a deep gravelly voice.  “The chamber will destroy itself in my absence.  Let us leave.”  And stepping to the void, the Watcher laid his hand on it.  And Jaigran and the Watcher vanished in streaks of blue light.



The ground shook as a tower suddenly burst out from the Noon-Stone, smashing up into the roof of the council chamber as blue light erupted out of it, Emperor Jaigran flying out from it to land on the roof even as the Watcher condensed above him, his burning ember body crashing down as he stood, enveloping the top of the roof in shadow as the blue light burst out above him, shining up into the sky out of the top of the new tower.

“Arquenia is lost,” the Watcher roared, stretching out his burning hand over the city.  “With your armor, you will be invincible to attacks.  We will destroy this last city of the auggers.  And then we will aspire to the heavens and leave into space in our ship.  The time of our commencement is come.  And this city will be our example.”



“We’re done,” Flek whispered.  Jroldin lay writhing in blood on the floor.  He, Reynyagn, and Astrid were chained to the wall in manacles without a key.  “It’s… it’s over.  This is defeat.”

“We…  we can’t…” Astrid whispered, even as her chest heave.  “Not…  not after all of this…”

“We have to get out of here,” Reynyagn said, looking up.  The ceiling shook, even as cracks began to form in it.  “The chamber is self-destructing.”  He looked down at Jroldin.  “Jroldin!”

“I…” Jroldin gasped, blood dripping from the wound in his chest as he looked up.  “I…  I’ve failed…”

“You can’t!” Reynyagn said.  “Not yet, Jroldin!  You need to get us out of here!”

“But…  but how…”

“Touch the void!” Reynyagn hissed.  “The Watcher used it to teleport.  You’re the Priest-King!  You can do it!” 

“I have to…” Jroldin heaved up off of the floor, blood dripping from his chest as he staggered forward.  Throwing himself upon the Noon-Stone, Jroldin gasped, contorting his face in agony, before he stretched out his hand upon the void, feeling the depths within it.  He called upon the forces of teleportation in one last gasp of agony.

And nothing happened.



“Fire more!  Stop that thing!” Grandine roared.  Catan the Silent signaled with his hands before pushing the button.  Missile silos on the island turned around, letting loose five missiles, four of which  fired at the shadowy being of fire which was the Watcher.  Four missiles crashed into the body of the Watcher, causing him to stagger once even as his hand quenched the life of a hapless Augger in his hand.  And then the Watcher shook his head, unmoved.

The fifth whistled through the air as Jaigran moved out of the way too late.  The missile sailed into him, blowing apart his arm as it exploded, throwing him against a tower.  Catan the Silent stabbed the computer keys, bringing up the surveillance camera closer onto Jaigran.  Jaigran grimaced, obviously in pain, before relief sprung upon his face.  Golden armor streaked up from the ground toward him as flesh and bone knit together. 

Catan the Silent watched in horror as Jaigran’s arm, blown apart, came together across the city to re-connect bone and marrow into one solid arm, which golden armor fastened itself again.  A smile played across Jaigran’s face.  And then he smashed the surveillance camera.

Catan the Silent pushed back, staring at the black computer screen.  “I…  I can’t stop them,” he stammered.  “Their defenses—they’re too good!  We’re…  we’re done.”

           

“Do something!” Reynyagn shouted as the cracks resounded throughout the walls.  “You’re the Priest-King!  Can’t you do it?!”

“It’s…  it’s hopeless,” Jroldin gasped as he collapsed, his hand falling off the blue void.  “My powers…  my powers are over…”

“What do you mean?” Astrid cried out.

“I…  I can’t do it…” Jroldin whispered, tears dripping down his face as he lay limply on the stone, his life draining out of him in his blood.  “It won’t open to me anymore.  We’re…  we’re at the end of our rope, guys.  I’m…  I’m sorry…  It’s over.”

Question of the Day: What will the Xavier Team do now?

 
 
Multiple climax sequences, anyone?  We'll just leave the rest of the Xavier Team stranded in their doom while we continue the saga of the other parts here...

Part CXXX: The Heart of the Mothership

Date: Kapton 30th, 114 A.U.

A single explosion rattled the chamber.  Smoke slowly cleared as Monty, Zarien, Augger, and Number 994 neared the crater and at the hole blasted into the floor.

“There’s our direct pipeline,” Monty said, grabbing the rope.  “Let’s go.”  Quickly tying the rope to the nearby door knob, Monty threw the rest of the rope into the hole and then slid down, swinging from side-to-side, before landing on top of a large computer terminal.  He waited as the other slid down after him.

Leaping down from the top of the large terminal, Monty landed on the ground and looked around.  The large expanse was dim, the blinking lights of the central computer system providing the little light that escaped through the region.  Towers and small buildings made up of the many computer systems stood all around them.

“Well,” Monty said, pausing.  “I have no idea where in this mess the central computer of the entire central computer system is.”

“And I suspect that I don’t have authorized access,” Number 994 said, laying his hand on one of the computers as a spark ran from his hand into the metal.  He paused.  “Nope,” he finally said.  “I need a password that I don’t have.”

“Looks like we’ll be doing this the old-fashioned way then,” Zarien said, striding forward.  “We go through this mess of computers and figure out where the central one is.  It should be noticeable, right?”

“The elven rebels said that there were defenses around the central computer,” Augger replied.  “It should be a fairly noticeable field then, I guess.”

“Perhaps like that?” Zarien said, pointing, as in the distance, the top of a wavering blue sphere could be seen.

“Let’s investigate,” Number 994 replied.



Moving past a computer tower, Number 994 paused as he looked at the sight.  A force orb had been erected around one large cubical computer.  A force orb was a high level of electricity magic and needed a constant source to fuel it.  Number 994 noticed the circuitry behind the force orb.  So the switch to turn it off was inside of the force orb.  A minor difficulty.  He’d just need to summon enough power to break down the force orb.

“How in the world are we going to get through that thing?” Zarien said, coming up behind him with the rest of the power.

  “If I just summon enough power, I think-” Number 994 began.

“I think that your mission would still fail,” a deep voice said.

“Who-“ Monty began.

Suddenly, a streak of fire flew down from the top of one of the computer towers.  Monty threw himself to the side as it hit beside where he was standing as three figures leapt down from the tower to stand between them and force orb.

“You have made an impressive feat, getting this far,” Unyihi Garum said, summoning balls of fire over his hands to light up the faces of his two partners.  Number 994 gulped.  Number 5, a lightning orc, and Number 11, a fire orc.

“Unfortunately for you, not all allies are allies worth trusting,” Unyihi Garum smirked.  “Your governor being the case in point.”

“Governor Iraina?” Monty asked.  “But-”

“Governor Iraina has been incredibly helpful to our cause,” Unyihi Garum rumbled.  “I believe that today was the date that was set for him to lead ten battalions of elves to take Araelia.  But either way, none of that concerns us.  What matters is that we have been prepared for your assault on our central computer system.  And your mission to do so has failed.”  His words rung in the air.

“Now!” Monty yelled, and dashed to the side as he drew his gun, firing two bullets at the fire orc who ducked, causing the bullets to sizzle upon hitting the force orb.  Augger moved forward, brandishing his corsha battle axe, as he blocked Unyihi Garum’s lightning strike with the axe, allowing the axe to absorb the damage as Zarien and Number 994 moved for cover.

“Your cause is hopeless against us,” Unyihi Garum rumbled, sending out a spurt of fire that nearly roasted Zarien’s leg.  “ Surrender now, while you still can.”

“Never!” Number 994 yelled, having made it to the top of a computer tower.  Focusing his sights in on the force orb, summoning his greatest attack, Number 994 called out his lightning, sending it crashing down upon the force orb.

The force orb flickered, but stayed firm.  The lightning rebounded, causing Number 994 to throw himself to the ground just in time to avoid being skewered by his own attack.

“There!” Number 5 yelled, sending crackling lightning around another terminal that Zarien had climbed to the top of.  Zarien gave a cry as electricity sizzled around his electronic leg, crumpling on top as the barbs of electricity flowed over him.

Monty moved forward, ignoring the stream of fire that narrowly missed him.  “Nice try,” he snapped, shooting at Number 11, now only ten feet away.  Number 11 moved to the side, but not quickly enough to avoid the bullet hitting him in the chest.  Number 11 fell to the ground, blood spurting out.

“But not good enough,” Unyihi Garum yelled.  Too late, Monty looked up as lightning hit him hard in the chest, throwing him backwards to crash against another computer system.  Number 994 watched in horror, turning around to late to see that Number 5 had flanked him.  Too late, Number 994 put up an electric shield in defense as the attack overpowered his defenses, throwing him off of the computer tower to hit the force field and slowly slide down on it even as the electricity in the force field snapped at him.

“Uhhh…” Number 994 blinked, trying to keep consciousness, as he did a head count.  Monty and Zarien were both knocked out.  Augger was nowhere to be seen, likely knocked out as well.

“And so we come to the end of the road, you and I,” Unyihi Garum said, striding forward as Number 11 lay dying beside him.  Number 5 came up next to him.  Number 994 blinked, seeing something in the shadows while trying to figure out what the figure was gesturing at.

“You…  You can’t…” Number 994 gasped, even as he deciphered what the figure was saying to him.  And then realization dawned upon him.  Rule #1.  Of course.

“I can, and I will,” Unyihi Garum snapped, pointing a gauntlet at him.  “You are a traitor to the cause, Number 994!  The others will have their lives spared to be tortured and questioned by the Emperor, if he wills it.  But you are under my authority.  And no orc who willingly betrays me will do anything but die the death of a traitor, struck with the mightiest force I can conjure up to blast your body into oblivion.”  Lightning cracked around his gauntlets.  “And so you meet the end of the road.  Die traitor.”

Rule Number 1: Always use your opponent’s greatest strength against him.

Lightning thundered toward him as Unyihi Garum unleashed his powerful attack.  Against the force field, Number 994 used his remaining strength to throw himself to the side at the last second, exhausting all possible strength even as the lightning thundered past him to hit the force field.  The force field again flickered, for longer this time on account of the more powerful assault, even as the figure in the shadows leapt out of the shadows past the down force field.

Too late Unyihi Garum saw what was coming as the force field flickered on again, rebounding the lightning.  The lightning rebounded—and struck Unyihi Garum with greater force than his previous attack, smiting him in the chest.

Unyihi Garum gave a cry of pain, falling back in agony even as Augger, the figure in the shadows now inside the force field, lifted up his corsha axe, putting all his strength behind it even as his arms cycled around, smashing the full weight of the corsha axe into the central computer system.

“No…” Unyihi gasped, flailing in death’s rows from his own assault.  One strike.  Twice.  Number 5, shaking away his initial shock, leapt for the force field too late in one desperate attempt to stop Augger.  But Augger swung his third strike.  The central computer, now struck thrice, faltered, and an explosion rang out.  The force field collapsed, causing Number 994 to fall back even as Augger was engulfed in the explosion.

“No…” Number 5 said, panting as he stood next to the fallen Number 994.  “No…  No!  It can’t be!”

“Sorry,” a voice whispered.  And a bullet ripped through Number 5’s ribs.  “I guess you ought to kill people instead of trying to knock them out,” Monty said, leaning against a computer tower, even as he held the smoking gun.  “You never know when they might come back to bite you.”



“All of the computer systems are down—I’m not getting anything to work!” Number 2, the pilot of the Mothership, roared to his co-pilot.  “All the engines just shut off!  I’m not getting anything to work!”

“Can’t you fix it?” the elven co-pilot yelled back.

“I’m trying!” Number 2 yelled.  “Nothing’s working!  Where’s the Garum?”

“I don’t know where Unyihi is!” the elven co-pilot yelled back.  “The Mothership’s going down!  You have to stop it!”

“Nothing’s working!  It’s total sabotage!  Where’s Unyihi Garum?!”


“We’re falling fast, but we ought to be able to the escape pod in time,” Monty said, panting, as they rounded the corridor.  “It’s just around here—right?”

“Yes,” Augger replied, only slightly burnt from the explosion, as he carried Number 994 over his shoulder.

“All I can say is that I never would have imagined your resistance to fire would’ve been so needed,” Zarien said.  Number 994 had used the last of his energy to use his electric power to fix Zarien’s mechanical leg before succumbing into the depths of unconsciousness.

“There’s a reason that the Xavier Team called for an augger to the task,” Augger replied.  “I have merely accomplished my purpose.

“There’s the escape pods,” Monty said, pointing to the corridor.  “No one else is here yet.”

“There are other escape pods other places in the ship.  I’m sure the other ones are going to be used,” Zarien said even as he pushed the button to open the door to the escape pod.  “Let’s go.”



The white behemoth of the Mothership continued its descent even as all attempts to stop it from crashing were made.  Pilots ran around in a frenzy in the cockpit of the ship, choosing to try to salvage the ship rather than use the escape pods and face assured death from what would be a very vehement Emperor.  Escape pods from those just trying to save their skins were fired off even as the Mothership came closer to the waves, nearing a lonely desert island even as all hope was lost.

The tip of the ship hit the ground first.  Explosions flared throughout the ship as the Mothership hit the island, even as the escape pod with the Xavier Team flew away.  There was the noise of an explosion behind them.  And then a large mushroom cloud split up into the air as the entirety of the Mothership imploded upon collision.

The Mothership of the Elves was destroyed.

Question of the Day: Number 994 is obviously going up in ranks with the majority of high-ranking orcs being immediately killed.  What should I call Number 994 now?

 
 
Dun, dun, dun...  Will the Watcher be awakened to wrack havoc on Arquenia?  Or will the Xavier Team prevail against this, their one last hope?

Part CXXIX: The Lair of the Watcher

Date: Kapton 30th, 114 A.U.

“So.  Either they lived to fight the Watcher or they died,” Grandine said as the door shut behind the Xavier Team.  “Come.  We must prepare our defenses.”

“Our defenses against what?” Ranvier asked.

“If the Watcher is awakened and if the Watcher, as you claim, is evil, then we must have a defense against him,” Grandine replied.  “We must gather together the auggers to stop him.”

“Very well,” Ranvier said.  “I assume you are including Catan the Silent in that group?”  Grandine paused.

“With all due respect, leader, no matter what his failings may be, Catan has been the only one among us who has been prepared so far for this attack,” Ranvier said.

“I…  Fine.  Alert him if you must,” Grandine said.  “Tell the guards to let him go.  Mayhaps he may atone for his deeds.  I only hope that the Xavier Team will stop him in time so that it doesn’t come to that.”




The Xavier Team stood on a roadway that circled through the black void into an central cylinder chamber, which glowed white only for its light to be consumed by the black void.  The air spun frigid around them as open eyes blinked.

“Come,” Reynyagn said as he drew out the Arglem.  “They are likely in that chamber already.  Haste and stealth must be on our side.”  Moving quickly, they moved around the roadway as it spiraled down to enter into the cylinder chamber, where the roadway continued to curl around.

Torches immediately flickered up into flame, lighting their way as Reynyagn instinctively stopped, startled by the sudden new light.  Writing began lighting up on the walls around them. 

“Is that…” Flek said pointing.  “Is that what I think it is?”

“The Prophesy of the Warrior,” Jroldin whispered, reading the inscription.  “It…  It looks like more of Xavier’s prophesies!”

“We don’t have time,” Reynyagn said regretfully.  “The Emperor is still ahead of us.  We must move on—and fast.”  Moving down through the spiral road that cycled down into the chamber, they passed more prophesies and then pictures detailing magnificent events in the history of Arquenia.  Still downward it went until finally it opened up.  Reynyagn paused before passing through the archway, and then stepped out.  Before him, the ramp continued to spiral down to the bottom of the chamber, but now the inner edge was open, guarded by a railing, allowing him to look into the chamber within.  The tall chamber sported runes and images, and in the bottom, a large circular stone sat, seven indented regions cut into it.  In the center of the stone swirled a blue spherical void.  The chamber was empty.  And there were no other exits.  Quickly descending down the rest of the stairs, the four moved forward to stand near the center of the room.

“Where…  where did they go?” Jroldin asked.  “They had to be here—right?”

“It is the domain of the Watcher,” Astrid said softly.  “I have a feeling he’s in control here.”

“You would be right about that.”  And the Xavier Team whirled around, just in time, as an augger in one of the murals shifted, and his image warped to transform into Emperor Jaigran, who now descended with his black wings as he displayed the Five Golden Corsha Weapons along his belt. 

“So this was a trap,” Flek said, narrowing his eyes.

“What else would you expect?” Emperor Jaigran asked.  “I see we meet again, Reynyagn.  And I also see that you are again surrounded by pitiful fighters who would seek to challenge me—me—the Wielder of Five of the Golden Weapons!”

“I would,” Reynyagn snapped, as he raised the Arglem.  “You have left yourself open, Jaigran.  You should have used the Five Golden Weapons to awaken the Watcher while you still could.”

“Which I would have done,” Jaigran replied, stepping toward him as his wings unfurled.  “If five were enough to do it.”

Astrid froze.  “What?”

“But of course, my young girl who bears the namesake of her governor,” Jaigran replied, a smile playing across his lips.  “All seven are needed to awaken the Watcher.  For a moment in this conflict, I was worried that you might escape with the two that you had, but as you see, my worries were unfounded.  If I couldn’t beat you to the Golden Weapons, I’d lure them to myself.”

“Then you miscalculated our strength,” Reynyagn said, stepping forward, even as his eyes displayed fear.  “The Prophecy of the Xavier Team will prevail against you.”

“You wish.”  And saying so, Jaigran leapt into the air.  A beat of his wings carried him up as he unfurled his weapons from his belt.  First the gauntlets of the orcs.  Then the human spear in one hand and the elven rapier in the other before he descended toward the middle of the group and his hand pointed at Astrid. 

Before she could move, a bolt of lightning threw her aside, as Jaigran fell to land where she was even as the others turned on him.  Reynyagn whipped the Arglem as Jaigran blocked it with his rapier, stabbing at Jroldin with his spear while Jroldin defended with his battle axe, Flek moving around to try and flank Jaigran.

“You won’t beat me so fast!” Jaigran roared as he stepped back to avoid Flek’s attempted flank.  Flek pursed his lips.  He knew that he was the weakest member of the party with Astrid now out of the fighting.  He gripped his two arjla corsha blades.  He wouldn’t be able to deter Jaigran with fear either—Jaigran knew that he had lost all of his power.

Reynyagn suddenly lashed out with the whip, avoiding Jaigran’s block to cut Jaigran hard across the face, creating a jagged line from his left eye to his right cheek.  Jaigran gave a shriek of pain, stumbling back as blood poured from his face, his left eye ruined.  Flek moved upon him in victory.  But the victory was short-lived.

As Jaigran stumbled back, flesh knit together with flesh as the wound began to fade, the ruined eye being miraculously cured as the bleeding of the cut quickly stopped.  “You… forgot…  about the healing power of the Golden Corsha Weapons,” Jaigran said, slowly, as he gritted his teeth.  “You got one strike in.  But you won’t get another.”

Moving to the side, Flek raced around toward Jaigran’s backside, causing Jaigran to again have to step back as Reynyagn and Jroldin advanced.  If he could keep moving Jaigran backwards he might have a chance of helping the others enough so that they could press him against the wall so that-

Suddenly, Jaigran lurched forward, beating his wings, as he shot a bolt of lightning into Jroldin’s chest, throwing him back.  Stunned, Jroldin crashed on the floor, flailing, as Jaigran flew above him, crashing down upon him to rip the axe out of his hand, quickly girding it onto his belt before kicking Jroldin’s body aside.  Moving up as Reynyagn came near, Jaigran lashed out with the spear, blocking the strike while moving low to the ground, using his shortness as an advantage as he avoided Reynyagn’s attack to come up with his sword, blasting fire into Reynyagn’s face from his gauntlets while with the sword he struck at the hand that held the Arglem.

Reynyagn gave a cry as blade burned through flesh.  The Arglem was flung out of his hands as the sword cleaved all of his fifth, and most of his fourth finger off, dropping down to the ground in pain as Jaigran leapt to the side, sheathing his sword before grabbing the Arglem.  Jaigran stood, panting, as he looked around him.  And then he nodded his head.

“Now.”

Instantly, the Xavier Team suddenly felt themselves being pulled back, flung to the walls as manacles and chains suddenly appeared around them, chaining them to the wall, as the ghostly figure of the Watcher emerged from the void in the middle of the central stone.

“It’s over,” The Watcher said.  “Have you had your fun toying with them, Jaigran?”

“Yes,” Jaigran said confidently.  “I have shown them that I can beat them.  Now, we will awaken you.”

“As you wish,” the Watcher whispered, and he faded away into the void.

“You…  You always had the power to chain us to the wall…” Flek slowly said, realization dawning upon him.

“The Watcher always had the power while you were in his domain,” Jaigran said, setting the Arglem down in one of the depressions on the central stone.  The Arglem glowed as stone immediately grew around it to thickly encase it in.  “However, I have shown that I have not needed such help to beat you.”  Two more weapons were laid down in the depression.  “And now, having been thoroughly beaten, you will watch as I fully Awaken the Watcher to his full power.”  Two more weapons were laid down as two more remained in his hands.

“No…” Flek said.  “You can’t—you can’t do this!”

“Ah, but I already have,” Jaigran said, laying down the orc gauntlets in the 6th cavity.  He paused, holding the elven rapier, over the 7th cavity.  “And now-”

Suddenly, the darkness moved around them and darkness formed on figure as they could only watch.  Jaigran looked up just in time to see the shadowy figure diving for him, whip outstretched.

There was a collision, and Jaigran went flying back, a line of blood forming around his chest as Jaigran stood face-to-face with a Sla’ad. 

“You!” Jaigran cried out, bringing up the elven golden rapier to block the next strike.  “You—you-”

“I have watched you for months,” the nameless Sla’ad replied, lashing out upon him with his whip as Jaigran narrowly avoided.  “Waited for months for the perfect opportunity while you banished the darkness from around here.  Until here when you slipped, ignored the darkness, and abandoned all of your golden corsha weapons.  And now—you will die.”

“Stop!” Jaigran roared, backing up, fear across his face as he again blocked.  “I—I plead—I beg you!”  His voice sounded pitiful in his fright.  “What do you want—spare my life—I can give you the world!”  He let his rapier limply drop as he looked up in fright at the towering Sla’ad.

“I request only your life,” the Sla’ad snapped, bringing up the corsha whip for one final slash.  And then the Sla’ad gasped, as he suddenly looked down, the rapier protruding through his chest.

“And you have let your guard slip upon your presumed victory,” Jaigran hissed, driving the blade up further into the Sla’ad’s writhing body.  “Your shadows have been banished, for one who would have been an assassin.  May the darkness reap its rewards on you.”  And stepping back, Jaigran watched as the Sla’ad crumpled on the floor.

“Your last chance of victory is defeated!” Jaigran proclaimed, striding toward the central stone with his last golden weapon.  “Your assassin has faltered on the cusp of victory!  And now-”  He paused next to the stone.  “Now, the victory is mine!”  And Jaigran laid the last golden weapon in the last depression of the stone as the stone encased it in.  The blue spherical void glowered. 

And the Watcher was awakened.

 
 
Part CXXVIII: The Door of the Void

Date: Kapton 30th, 114 A.U.

“Augger Island approaches,” Ranvier said.  “I have sent them a signal to let them know that it is I.  We should have a smooth landing.”

“Our destiny approaches then,” Jroldin muttered.  “And we walk straight into the trap prepared for us.”

“Iraina was counseling us about this yesterday,” Astrid said.  “We may have gotten here before Jaigran and we have the entire island on our side.  We have nothing to fear.”

“I’m still not so sure how much I trust Iraina’s advice over ex-Governor Astrid’s…” Jroldin muttered.  But he said nothing else as the island drew near.



“I don’t suppose this is normal?” Flek asked.  They had just landed and opened the door to exit the ship when they were met by a small army of auggers, waiting at the end of the gangplank.

“I’ll check in with them,” Ranvier said, pushing past him.  “Hail fellow Auggers!  Your ambassador has returned with half of the legendary Xavier Team to investigate the Noon-Stone!”

“The Xavier Team!”  Whispers spun throughout the small army.

“You come at a most inopportune time then,” Grandine, leader of the auggers, said, stepping out from the group.  “You will forgive our show of arms, Ranvier.  It’s only that this morning we were attacked by a group of elves and did not know whether to believe your message or not.”

“A group of elves?!” Flek cried out, a sinking feeling in his heart.

“It would appear that Catan the Silent isn’t as silent in regards to political affairs as he may seem,” Grandine replied, turning to Ranvier.  “He and his ancestors have planted a whole defense system on our island without us knowing.  Upon spotting their ship, Catan the Silent let loose a whole barrage of missiles at them as they came near, which he thought would have most certainly destroyed them.  The ship, on the other hand, either magically repulsed, or dodged the missiles that were sent at them, made it through Catan’s extensive defense system, and then landed on top of the Council building.”  He gestured toward a large circular building with a flat roof in the middle of the city.  “Two of the occupants of the ship then proceeded to make his way down into the chamber with the Noon-Stone and disappeared into the domain of the Watcher while his companions took up nest on the top of the roof to shoot us down.  Although the elves are all slain, nine of our kind have fallen today, a most grievous woe.”

An augger swiftly made his way toward Grandine from outside the army.  Grandine turned to see him and narrowed his eyes as the augger rapidly made gestures with his hands. 

“That’s Catan the Silent,” Ranvier murmured as they slowly moved out of the ship.  “He’s mute.”

“This is our ambassador with the legendary Xavier Team,” Grandine snapped as he glared at Catan.  “They are not more threats for you to depose—or people to turn into threats like you did with the others!”  More gestures emerged from Catan.

  “You have no proof they were planning on attacking us before you tried to murder them,” Grandine snapped.  “But we’ve already been through this discussion.  Once the lawgivers set a time for the trial, we will see what defense you really do have against these allegations.”

“If I may intervene,” Ranvier said, stepping forward.  “Although I cannot get involved directly with this discussion, being absent from the circumstances that led up to this attack, what did these elves look like?”

“One was short with black wings and a circlet of gold.  Some claim to have seen four of the Golden Corsha Weapons on him,” Grandine replied.  “The other was tall, and some say the sun shone through him.”

“Then we are already too late,” Ranvier replied.  “With due respect, Grandine, these two elves are the leaders of the elven forces.  You say they went into the Door of the Void?”

“Yes.”

“Where is our Golden Corsha Weapon?”

Grandine paused as his glance flickered from Jroldin to Reynyagn, both carrying Golden Weapons.  “It was…  It was in the Council Chamber—the Chamber of the Noon-Beam,” he slowly said.

“Is it still there?”



“And so Jaigran has remained a step ahead of us,” Astrid said bitterly as she stared at the empty rack on the wall of the chamber of the Noon-Beam.  “They have all five now.”

“Then they can unleash the Watcher,” Flek whispered.  “They have what they need.  It’s over.”

“Unleash the Watcher?” Grandine asked.  “Do you mean—are they planning on awakening him?”

“Yes, Grandine, but it isn’t what you think,” Ranvier said as he turned toward him.  “The elf who seemed translucent?  He’s the Watcher—and he’s not on the good side anymore.  He’s allied himself with the elves to destroy us.”

Shock was apparent on Grandine’s face.  “But…  but-”

“We don’t have time,” Reynyagn said as he looked toward Grandine.  “Where is the Door of the Void?”

“There—but why?” Grandine asked as he pointed.

“Because we’re going to do the only thing we can do,” Reynyagn said as he turned.  “We’re going to follow him.”

“But you can’t!” Ranvier said as he moved after them.  “That’s the domain of the Watcher!  No one has set foot within those doors and lived!”

“Jaigran did, if he went through,” Reynyagn replied as he continued walking.  “And as the Xavier Team, we’ll be protected, although I don’t suggest you go with us, Ranvier.” 

“I understand,” Ranvier said.  “Do what you must do, then.  I’ll update Grandine on the situation.”

The Xavier Team quickly walked down to the other end of the room where the two double doors sat.  They paused in front of them.

“Well,” Jroldin said.  “I guess this is it.  We might be walking into immediate death.”

“Everyone else that went into the door may not have immediately been killed,” Reynyagn replied.  “And what other hope do we have?  If the Watcher is unleashed, we’re all doomed.”  He paused, and thenm turned.  “Are you with me?”

“We follow, if only…” Astrid paused as her throat caught.  “I…  I’m not ready to face death.”

“No one ever is,” Jroldin said quietly.

“No, but—but this is it,” Astrid said.  “I…  If I die…  I die guilty of my murder.”

“Must you die guilty?” Flek asked as he gently laid his hand on Astrid’s shoulder.  “I think…  I think Monty’s told you what you have to do.”  Astrid was silent, breathing deeply.  Slowly, one tear trickled out of her eyes before she finally looked up.

“I—I see it!” Astrid suddenly cried, leaping back.  “I see it!”

“You see what?”

“I see the circlet—I see the sign of the Priest-King!” Astrid cried out, pointing to his head.  “I see it—I believe!”

“I have waited so long for this day,” Reynyagn said, embracing her, as they moved together, carried along by the joy of the conversion.

“I…  I’ll be able to do it,” Astrid said.  “But come on—we have to go.  Jaigran won’t stop just because I’m converted.  We need…  We need to take it one final step.  To follow the lead of the Great One and enter the domain of the Watcher.”

“And so the Xavier Team embarks on its last quest,” Reynyagn said, opening the door.  And silently, the four members of the Xavier Team moved past the door into the void and into the domain of the Watcher.  And the door slowly shut behind them.