I must have looked strange wandering up the spiral staircase with an elf in tow. Many tried desperately to get distance between us in fear that the forigner would attack. The only one brave enough to come forth was a veteran guard, and even he looked shaky as he tried to ask me if he could assist.
"I'll be fine thank you." I said waving him off.
We proceeded up the next two floors before I led him into a round hallway. Evenly spaced around the edge were doors to official's homes. This area was reserved for the parlament members and those who take orders straight from the Ruler of the House. I swiftly knocked on master Adius's door, hoping only to get out of sight. Less questions in this case would be better. I heard him slowly unbolt his many latches and slide the door open.
"Ziyous? Come in I was just abou-" his voice trailed off when he saw the elf behind me.
I heard a knife unsheath in Adius's direction.
"No wait master!" I yelled, "I brought him! He won't fight unless you strike first!" I urged, reaching in and pushing the hilt of his blade back into it's scabbard.
"Get in here. I hope as few people as possible saw you."
"I'm sorry master but there wasn't much I could do to hide him." I admitted.
"Idiot! Now everyone knows we have an elf, and a shadow magika user as well!"
"You could identify my power?" Hopwil asked stepping into the dimly lit house.
"Little trick we developed to find witches back in the day." He grunted.
Adius offered us a seat in his living room. It was spectacuraly clean and the evening sun shown through the window, casting an orange glow over the spotless decor and furniture. Even I didn't maintain my living quarters to this degree. It had been a while since I had been in his home, he generally came to mine when he wanted to discuss matters. I carefully took my seat on an ebony chair that had dragon heads carved out as armrests.
I explained how I had felt him appear in the city along with another one.
"Do you think they're blessed?" He asked.
"I couldn't be sure, there isn't a way to really define a blessed. It's just an increased mana flow. But I will say, if anyone has a pwerfull flow, it's this one."
"The blessed? Are you refering to the Blessing of Androma?" Hopwil said.
"So you've heard of it?" Adius said leaning back.
"Oh yes, and the things that generally accompany it." A grin glowing on his face. "Ah! So that it why you're all so tense." He voiced a hearty laugh. "The toungue of the Gluttonous God reappears! Oh lords how I have missed the days that a true challange beseeched me."
Me and Adius exchanged half amused, half terrified looks.
"So then, how many this time?"
"Numbers have accumulated to well into the thousands. And it appears they're going to wipe all the cities off the echo-zone so they can establish permenant control over it."
I was suprised to hear Adius's release of information. The normally distrusting warmaster rarely gave out such fragments to even his own subordiates(besides me). And the priest Hopwil, I didn't know his intentions, but he seemed to be searching for battle. As if he wanted to find those who would strike him so he might return the blow with a thousands times the force. Shadow magika corrupted far too many good men, but Hopwil's mind remained focused and organized, in oposite to the chaos that most had once they reached into that dark side of the spectrum. It was like his own dark will had poisoned the shadow magika, making it bend to his will instead of losing himself within it.
"That brings me to my other question, have you ever exibited extreme signs of mana redistribution or release?" Adius asked.
"Not anything that would really single me out as a blessed." Hopwil replied uncaring.
"Why did you come here?" I asked him.
"I travel. I saw the glow and followed it."
I sighed, only suggested answers with this one eh.
A messanger slipped a note under the door, Adius asked me to grab it. I got up from my comfortable chair and picked up the note. I unfolded it and read out loud.
"An air-rider carrying the believed blessed has docked at the agricultural district, and he is being held at the docks for the overwatchman's inspection." Then a second note that was folded deep into the paper slid into my hand, it was labled obervation-rider report, "time: fourteen eighty, sun rises and crossworlders begin to gather at a canyon sight, multiple knights decended into the pit and appear to be looking for something. Time:fifteen sixty-nine, we are spotted and are forced to retreat due to a ornithopter being launched after us. Time:fifteen ninety-two, docked at pinicale."
Crossworlders were hunting something down. But what lays in the echo zone that they would want? Crossworlders have no need for information, as their quest is to destroy it all. They don't generally use our material as their devices are generally organic in nature and the metals, being from another dimension, don't bond well with Thereafter's. Energy also isn't compatible with their otherworldly devices.
"This is bad, if they want something from here, then it probably is also useful to us." I said sitting back down.
"Maybe it's the fact that it could be useful to us that scares them." Hopwil added.
"If true, then that's all the more reason for us to claim it first." I replied.
"Then we should take the wisest course of action and crush the crossworlder search groups."
"I wish to participate in this fight, I have not killed anything of this caliber in a very long time. This will be a most delightful battle."
Adius smirked a bit. I raised an eyebrow.
"I think you are a complete lunatic, and that is the kind of soldier I want on my battlfield." Adius laughed."
"Your strength will fair well in the oncoming battle, if it's a challange you seek then I see no better proving grounds than the one we soon must face." I said smiling.
Hopwil leaned back with a satisfied smile. And soon I did too. Adius bolted upright.
"We must toast to this!" He yelled, running to his kitchen and rumaging through the cuboard.
He produced a dwarven ale in a bright green bottle. He set several glasses out and began to pour.
"I shant have any thank you." Hopwil politely declined.
"Really? Ziyous, how about you?"
"No thanks master." I smiled.
"This is fine drink right here friends! Fine then, to the skies!" He yelled, placing the entire bottle to his lips and draining half of it.
"Master, I think I should speak with the blessed at the docks and see if he would be willing to fight with us."
The Pridean would be hard to convince. But I felt if I apologized and expressed how grave the situation was, then all would be well.
"I will do that, I want you to find the other one you detected. If the order does come down to strike, then we will need all the warriors we can find. You may not even need to go on your little endeavor if they keep showing up here. Go now! We don't have another day to lose!"
Coming from the man who offered you the heaviest liqour in Thereafter.
Then I realized it wasn't me thinking.
You! You told me earlier about the others! Arriving!
A smile appeared in my head.
My, you can even distinguish subcnsious voices? Not bad.
What are you? Have I lost it?
More like gained it. But now is not the time, I hear their footsteps at my door.
Your rambling bears no meaning, Who is at your door?
I must hurry, hide myself. You need the others to follow you. I must stay quiet for now.
Wait! Name yourself!
To many of them to choose.
It disappeared from my head without another word.
I found myself still preforming the task at hand, I had already begun decending down the staircase. When I regained my barings, I nearly missed step and tripped.
"I guess Aethians aren't as light on their feet as elves." Hopwil teased.
We exited the tower just in time to see the sunlight fade into a star coated sky. I called several soldiers over and asked them to head out into the agriculture district and ask the tenders if they saw an outsider. Hopwil suggested that we go to the exact place I had senced her, and see if she left a trail.
I would soon find that a path of resurection to be her mark.