“You and me, we need to have a talk,” Fay said as she entered Ky’s room later that night. She found him relaxing on his bed with an arm tucked under his head reading a book. He was wearing nothing but tight leather pants and his ever present strider boots.
“Oh, we do?” Was all that Ky said in response to her entering his room unannounced. He didn’t stop reading his book as she walked to stand at the end of his bed.
“That little show you so cleverly put on earlier, was really out of this world, if you catch my drift?” She said folding her arms.
“I’m sure I don‘t know what your getting at,” Ky stated still reading and feigning disinterest.
“One doesn’t often see a Muridae who can change into more than one of any creature, no matter how small that creature may be. Yet, there you were turned into a multitude of Spriggan fairies. What do you have to say about that?” Challenged Fay.
Shrugging his shoulders and never looking away from his book, he said, “I did what I had to do to play fair and that’s all I have to say about that,” hoping to end Fay’s inquisition.
“I’ve had my eye on you ever since we first met. I didn’t trust that made up story about your clothing. I’m no fool. Now, I want you to tell me everything you haven’t been telling me this whole time,” Fay demanded.
In response to her scrutiny he simply stated nonchalantly, “There isn’t anything to tell.”
“Horse pucky! I know how twisted those Gods are. Did they send you here?” She asked, continuing her interrogation. “What is it they don’t want me to know?”
This time Ky closed his book, set it on the bed and sat up crossing his legs before looking Fay in the eyes and answering, “I’m sure I don’t know what you are carrying on about.” Fay took a deep breath preparing to verbally berate him but before she could, he continued, “but if I were you I would listen to Mina a bit more and find that child soon.”
“What are you getting at? I have done everything possible to find the child quickly. Be careful of what you accuse,” warned Fay.
“I am not accusing you of anything, mistress. I am merely suggesting that when Mina says we travel in a different direction from your plan, it may benefit all parties to heed her insight.”
“Out with it Ky. Stop playing word games with me,” she said getting more frustrated with his every answer. “There’s a lot going on that your not telling me and I don’t like it. How am I supposed to have trust in you to protect me when you act like this? How do I know your not some double agent waiting to kidnap me?”
Ky slouched a little at the effort the conversation was demanding. He was tired from the battle earlier. It truly was no small feat to transform into so many small Spriggan fairies, the size of a dragon fly. All Ky wanted to do was read his book until he fell into a wonderfully deep sleep. “Fay, look on the level, I got some information about the couple. Spending the day with Holly paid off in a way I never expected. Apparently, she overheard snipbits of a conversation they had. Holly thought they were talking about visiting many of his pregnant relatives. I suspect that they’re looking for the same thing we are. They’ve been here and gone. I don’t have any idea if they know who the child is or if they checked anyone in this colony yet. All I know is, they have a days head start.” He finished looking pointedly at Fay.
“Does Mina know about this?” She asked more concerned then upset.
“No, I’ve been in here trying to figure out how to tell you both about this or if I should even say anything. All I really know is the couple has moved up a couple notches on the suspicion belt.”
Without any warning Fay bellowed, “Miiiinnnnaaaaa! Get in here!”
A couple heart beats later and Mina came bursting through the bedroom prepared to fight. Breathless, she surveyed the room looking for the threat. When the scene of Ky reclining on the bed, propped up by an elbow with his ankles crossed and Fay standing at the end of the bed, she relaxed her stance and closed the door.
“Mistress, why on the Gods great earth did you yell for me like that? I thought you were being attacked,” Mina chided.
“Ky has found out some very important information that he needs to share with you.” Fay stated matter-of-factly.
“What is she talking about?”
“Yes Ky, why don’t you tell Mina who you really are and why you’re really here?” Fay prompted, accusingly.
Concerned by Fay’s accusations, Mina looked to Ky for an answer.
He sat up and slid off of the bed to stand in front of her. “Mina, I think it’s time you ask for some help from on high.” At least that’s all that Fay heard. All the while he was approaching her, he spoke using their telepathic connection. “Mina, Fay is catching on. She knows I am more than a helping hand. She suspects I’m working for the other side. I need you to call on the Goddess.”
“No need to call me dear, I’m already here,” Goddess Imerra whispered in Mina’s ear.
The Goddess appeared seated behind the group in one of the room’s two arm chairs. She cleared her throat announcing her presence to everyone in the room.
“You sure picked a fine time to show up,” Fay remarked acknowledging Imerra’s arrival.
“Is that anyway to greet a friend?” Questioned Imerra, with mock innocence.
“I’m not in a very friendly mood Goddess,” Fay replied. “In fact, I hold you accountable. What is going on around here? And just who is Ky really? There’s no way he’s an ordinary mouse. Everyone at that field today knows it.” Fay continued her rant, pausing only when Goddess Imerra held up her hand.
“Fay, please? I can’t answer your questions if you don’t stop and take a breath,” she said pausing to choose her next words carefully. “Okay, Here is what I can safely tell you. The couple that stayed here is definitely working for Caleb of the Dark. Presently, They believe you are in Bean town looking for the child. Luckily for us, They’re traveling by foot and it will take them a while to get there. I’ve been able to impede any information regarding your true whereabouts and activities. So far, they know nothing of how close you really are. I don’t know how much longer I will be able to prevent them from finding out the truth.” Imerra paused again; a swiftly passing look of uncertainty crossed her face. Just as quickly, she strengthened her resolve and continued, “On to your other question; Ky do you want to fill them in or should I?”
Ky thought for a moment before he answered, “I think it would be best if you explained Goddess.”
After taking a deep sigh, Imerra explained, “Fay as you have suspected Ky is not of this realm. He is here at the request of Lord Fennik. We wanted you to be well protected and Ky is the best suited to keep you both safe.”
“Ah ha, I knew it! I was right,” Fay stated happily. She continued pointing her finger at Ky. “From the moment I saw you, I knew they were behind this. I want you to tell me….”
Before Fay could finish her thought, a flash of light filled the room. When it dispersed and everyone regained their sight, they saw a bloodied and mangled body had materialized on the floor at Goddess Imerra’s feet. Everyone was in shock; Mina grabbed Fay pulling her back a few steps, while Ky and Imerra knelt next to the body. The being was obviously male; he wore clothing similar to Ky, black leather pants and strider boots. His shirt was slashed open in many places and covered in blood. His face was so badly beaten and bruised that his once handsome features were now unrecognizable.
Imerra placed a gentle hand on his face checking to see if he was conscious. “Liet, how did this happen?” Imerra asked.
“Y-you know who that is?” Fay asked, obviously shaken with the turn of events.
“Liet was shadowing the couple. He was making sure they didn’t find out about you and informing me on their activities. Something big must’ve happened for him to come here like this.” Imerra informed the group while still cradling Liet’s head in her hands. “Ky grab a pillow for his head. Mina go to the refreshing room and get me a bucket of warm water and some cloths. Fay, you sit down before you faint, you’re looking pale.”
As she gave the orders, everyone scrambled to do as asked. In no time at all, her hands where replaced by a pillow and Mina was back with the things Imerra requested. Mina knelt on the floor next him. She felt horrible for him, she’d never seen anyone in such a condition. It was amazing he was even still alive. She tentatively reached to remove his torn and tattered shirt. After opening the buttons she began to remove the shirt and his eyes flew open, fluttered then closed again. In that brief moment, Mina saw that his eyes were a stormy shade of deep blue. She finished removing his shirt and found deep lacerations all over him. Gingerly, she cleaned around his wounds with the wet cloth. Ky changed the water for her several times before she finished. As Mina cleaned, the Goddess tenderly bandaged Liet’s wounds. Everyone worked in silence, no one dared to say a thing lest they disturb the poor soul, unconscious on the floor.
After they’d tended to his chest Imerra instructed, “Ky carefully roll him over so we can tend his back.” Once Liet was moved, allowing them to tend to his back, everyone returned to their work in silence. Fay sat frightened and anxious watching the others work diligently yet gently.
This time when they finished, Imerra stood and moved out of the way. Mina went to the bed and turned down the blankets so Ky could move Liet to a more comfortable place to rest.
“There’s nothing to do now except wait and see if he wakes,” Goddess Imerra said.
“C-can’t you just heal him?” Fay inquired timidly.
“No, I may be a God but there are some things even I can’t do. I better inform Lord Fennik of Liet’s condition. He would want to be here.” With that said, Goddess Imerra vanished from sight.
A few tense minutes passed before anyone moved or said a word. Finally, Mina walked over to the vacant chair as if guided by an unseen force. She curled up into the chair pulling her knees to her chin, hugging her legs. She rocked slightly unconsciously comforting herself. As the true reality of the danger set in for Fay, she started visibly shaking. She clasped her hands tightly in her lap trying to hide it from the others. They had bigger things to worry about then her nerves.
Ky was pacing a rut in the floor by the time Imerra returned with Lord Fennik at her side. Neither said a word. Lord Fennik rushed past everyone to Liet’s bed side. He touched his forehead, pulling his hand away quickly. He looked to Imerra when he spoke, “He’s burning up. Do you know if he was poisoned? Did he say anything, anything at all since he arrived?”
“We don’t know anything. He’s been unconscious this whole time. Fennik what should we do? He’s one of your guard. I have no power to help him.”
“My dear,” he started, reaching to hold her hand while he sat on the bed next to Liet, “you’ve all done more than you know. Mina have the inn keeper prepare a soup with the ingredients on that list and bring it here when she’s done.”
A piece of paper appeared in Mina’s hand when he’d finished speaking. Without opening the paper, Mina left the room in search of Peaches. After she left, Ky stopped pacing and opted to stand with his back to a corner in the room. He propped his elbow up with his other hand and chewed his nails, watching the others.
Lord Fennik kept one hand on Liet’s leg and held Imerra’s hand with the other. He looked up at her, “He has several broken bones and a few cracked ribs but no other internal damage. He looks hurt far worse than he is. I can speed up the mending of his bone but it will be very painful for him. I’ll start once Mina is back with the soup. It has pain killing properties so he should sleep through the worst of it. Everything, will be fine dear. Try not to look so troubled. We knew the possibility of loss would be great. Liet will pull through, he’s strong and I’m sure really pissed.”
Lord Fennik pulled Imerra close, wrapped a comforting arm around her waist and sat her on his knee. He continued talking to fill the silence in the room, “I’ve sent Rogan and Ari to where Liet last reported tailing Hugo and Amanita. They know to be more cautious and will track them from a greater distance.
“So, that’s who they are? We found out about them last night, only we didn’t have any names. They stayed here one night passing through on their way to Bean Town. Hugo and Amanita…, where do I know those names from?” Ky asked out loud.
Imerra answered him, “You know their names from the Dark upraising. When Caleb rose to power he had a core team of ferocious fighters. He used them to take out some of the tougher bosses. Hugo and Amanita were the best at being the worst. They are blinded by blood lust and when they are fighting together you‘re lucky to die quickly. They take great enjoyment in killing slowly, torturing their targets mercilessly.”
“But they’re just regular Muridae. They aren’t from the Godly realm. How on your great earth could they do this to Liet?” Ky questioned with a mix of confusion, disbelief and anger in his voice. He fought to keep his emotions under control.
“Correction,” it was Lord Fennik that answered Ky this time. “We think or should I say, we thought they were regular Muridae; now I’m not so sure. There could be other Gods trying to do the same thing we are.”
“And what are you trying to do?” Fay interrupted.
“We’re trying to do the same thing we’ve been trying to do since Imerra brought you to our realm, that first time, all those years ago. Save this realm and everything in it. There are those Gods that would love to destroy everything here so they could create a world where they rule. Many are angry that man and their infantile Gods rule this realm. Those Gods think that because they’ve been here longer and have more worshipers they should reign. They’re tired of beings like you having only a bit part in this realm. Here, you’re relegated to “mythical and legend” status, hiding from powerless creatures. In the eyes of the others, people should be your slaves, existing only to follow your orders. The others believe, if this were the case from the beginning, the world would be a better place with less people, less destruction, and a healthier earth.”
“Why do you call their Gods infantile? Aren’t all Gods great and powerful?” Fay inquired, trying to get a handle on the magnitude of what Lord Fennik was telling them.
“All Gods exist because of and for their followers. A God is born when at least a single being believes in them. Gods grow in strength and power when they are paid homage by their worshipers. When the number of worshipers grows, a God grows and when the number falls, the God’s powers weaken. Once a God is created they can’t die. If a God finds they have no worshipers, they go into a sleep of sorts. Many Gods are egotistic and ensure they have a continued following by appearing to the masses and stirring up interest, like those of the Mount Olympus used to. The varied Gods that man follow haven’t been around long at all. And the race of man is so fickle that their Gods haven’t been able to attain their greatest potential. A few are close and when they reach it there will be no need for us to assist them. Until then, this realm and everything in it, depend on us. Now do you understand why you are so important?”
“I guess so,” was all Fay could say.
The room was quiet again as no one said a thing while they waited for Mina to return with the soup. Fortunately, they didn’t have to wait long. She returned pushing a cart laden with enough food and drinks for everyone.
“Peaches wanted to send a congratulatory meal up to you Ky for your, and I quote, “wonderful and heroic actions at the Field of Honor, also for treating our little Holly with such grace.” I thanked her immensely for their generosity and said that you were tired from the battle. I asked that you not be disturbed tonight. And I told her, that when you were feeling better you’d stop in to talk. That should buy us some time with no interruptions,” Mina informed the group as she pushed the cart into the room. She picked up the bowl of soup and a spoon and brought them to Lord Fennik.
He accepted the offering from Mina with a slight bow of his head and said, “Thank you, dear. Make sure you eat something. You all need to eat and keep your strength up. Once everyone has eaten, I will attend to Liet‘s broken bones.”
“Peaches really out did herself with that meal. I’ve never tasted food that delicious before and I’m supposed to have the best cook working for me. When we get back, I’m going to send him here to learn from a true master,” Fay stated, as she stacked her empty dishes on the cart.
“Now that everyone has had something to eat, I would ask you Mina to please take Fay to your room and no matter what you may hear stay there,” Lord Fennik directed. “Ky, I will need you and Imerra here to help me with Liet.”
Mina and Fay left the room taking the cart with them. Lord Fennik removed the covers from Liet and walked to the end of the bed and started removing his boots. “Imerra I’m going to need you to put a shield around this room making it sound proof. I don’t want to cause the inn keeper and his family any distress if Liet reacts badly to the healing.”
“Right, just let me know when to start,” she answered walking to the center of the room. She sat on the floor with her legs crossed and rested her hands palm up on her legs in preparation.
“Ky help me remove the rest of his clothing. I need to touch the area above the breaks.”
Together they finished removing his boots and pants. Liet lay asleep on the bed not reacting to them in the least. Each time they had to move one of his legs, Ky would cringe at the grinding sounds he heard. Once Liet was stripped bare, the damage to his body was clear. Great black spots covered him, marking each broken bone. His entire left leg from the knee to toe was black and quickly swelling now that the restraints were removed. When Imerra saw the rest of the damage inflicted on Liet tears began flowing.
Lord Fennik looked at her, “Ready?” He asked.
She wiped away the tears with the back of her hand and answered with a nod. Closing her eyes, she focused, sending her energies out to every corner of the room. First out along the floor and then sending it traveling, weaving its way up the walls. Finally, crossing and blending along the ceiling. Once she encapsulated the room in her energy all she had to do was continue the flow, like energy through a power cord. As long as her energy was uninterrupted the room would remain sound-proof. She could maintain the protection using less focus then when creating it. As soon as she completed setting up the sound barrier, she opened her eyes and gave a nod to Lord Fennik and Ky, allowing them to proceed.
“Good, thank you dear,” he said to Imerra. Next, he directed Ky, “You will need to stay near his head. Make sure if he wakes you don’t let him move. He could reopen those wounds and worse if he moves. Here, place this cloth in his mouth to muffle any screams.”
Ky took the cloth from Lord Fennik and did as instructed. After the cloth was in place, Lord Fennik placed his hands on Liet’s left foot. His hands began to glow along with the area under his hands. A few tense moments passed then came the horrible sound of Liet’s bones grinding. His eyes flew open as he tried to sit-up, a muffled yell escaped his lips in response to the intense searing pain. Ky quickly held him down by his shoulders. As suddenly as he woke, Liet was unconscious again. The pain overpowering his system. Lord Fennik never ceased in his task.
Timed seemed to move slowly as he tended to the many broken bones. Sweat broke out over Lord Fennik as he worked long into the night. At some point during the long night, Ky fell asleep standing up, leaning against the wall. Imerra was curled up in a ball on the floor asleep. The morning light was breaking over the horizon as Lord Fennik finished the healing on Liet’s face. All of the swelling was gone, however the bruises remained that covered his body. Lord Fennik collapsed after withdrawing the last of his energy. He fell to his knees on the floor leaning against the bed with his head cradled over his folded arms.
When the morning came with no word from anyone in the room, Mina ventured to the door. She knocked softly, not wanting to wake anyone who might be sleeping. A couple heart beats later, when no answer came, she slowly opened the door. Like a thief in the night, she quietly entered the room. The only light in the room came from the open door. She saw bodies everywhere. Concerned, she crept to the closest one. As she crept along the floor she found Goddess Imerra curled up facing away from her. Mina reached out to touch her shoulder. When she did, the Goddess stirred. Mina relaxed as Goddess Imerra awoke at her touch. “Are you okay Goddess?” Mina asked whispering.
Imerra sat up and stretched stifling a yawn, “Yes, I’m fine. How is Liet?”
“I don’t know yet. I’m going to go check on the others,” she said and quietly crept to where it appeared Ky and Lord Fennik were. Ky was still standing and leaning against the wall. She poked him in the arm and he jumped awake prepared to fight. His reaction briefly woke Lord Fennik. Imerra went to Fennik and with Ky’s help, they moved him to Mina’s room so he could rest.
When they returned, Imerra checked on Liet’s fever. Thankfully, when she felt his forehead he was back to normal. He stirred at her touch. She leaned in and asked, “Liet are you awake?” He moaned in response and briefly opened his eyes. They fluttered a couple times more, closed, then opened with awareness. He focused on the ceiling and took stock of his being before looking around the room. He tried to sit up but thought better of it. Instead he looked to Goddess Imerra and smiled slightly before saying, “I made it to you.”
“Yes, you did. Liet how are you feeling?” She asked concerned he might be in pain.
“It hurts like hell, so I’m happy,” he replied weakly.
“Do you feel up to talking?”
“There’s much I need to tell you, Goddess.”
“Why don’t you begin by telling us how you got in this condition?” Imerra prompted. “But first, Mina, would you ask the inn keeper to prepare some breakfast for everyone? Also, see if she can make more soup for Liet.”
“Right away, Goddess.” Mina replied and promptly left the room.
Ky settled into one of the arm chairs. Imerra sat on the bed next to Liet. He asked for a drink. Imerra materialized a glass of water for him. He drank deeply from the glass, with his thirst quenched and thoughts collected Liet began to relay the story of how he came to Goddess Imerra.
“As you know, I’ve been tracking Hugo and Amanita since they crossed over the border from the Dark. Much of the journey passed uneventfully. They acted like two beings in love. The first week of the journey seemed like a honeymoon for them. They stopped constantly to rendezvous; it was disgusting. As we neared the valley their demeanor changed. They were more cautious. I wasn’t able to get any information on their plans. They never spoke about the logistics. I was beginning to wonder if they had telepathy. I’d been keeping myself open so I could divert anyone who came close and I never picked up on any indications or communications they might’ve had.” Liet paused to take another deep drink from the glass. He rested a moment more before continuing on.
“While they were at the inn, I found out about the colonies plans for a festival. I’d also heard about the expected visit by Oracle Fay. I believe I was successful in blocking any knowledge of her visit. I was very fortunate they stayed at the inn for only one night. However, I wasn’t very lucky later on,” Liet paused to take another sip of the cool water.
“They’d set out at dawn from the inn, continuing their track heading north out of the valley. Nothing seemed any different that morning; they were within my sights traveling much the same as before. I was high up in a tree keeping watch and planning my next flash, when next I knew, Amanita was there behind me. She struck me in the head before I could react. Everything went dark. I don’t know how long I was unconscious before they woke me by throwing ice cold water on me.
When I woke, I was tied to a chair in some room. It looked like it might have been a library at one point, but all the books were removed. From what little I could see there were shelves built in the wall. It smelled like I was underground. The place had that mix of must and wet dirt smell. The room was lit by candle light. Hugo and Amanita were there along with another male. I’m guessing it was Caleb but I can’t say for sure. Whoever he was, he stayed behind me through the interrogation,” Liet paused again taking another drink from the glass.
It was Ky who spoke next, “Liet, how where they able to keep you there? Why didn’t you flash away?”
“Good question,” replied Liet. “I wasn’t sure how they were keeping me there at first, either. But I’m getting ahead of myself. After they dowsed me and I came to, Hugo broke my foot. It was Hugo who broke my bones; while that witch cut me up. They said, they knew I’d been following them since they crossed the boundaries. I still don’t know how they detected me. They wanted to know who the next child was and who I worked for. When I didn’t give them any information, they’d break a bone or cut me.
Like I said, they started with breaking my foot. When I didn’t give them any reaction, the witch smiled, looked at Hugo and said, “This is gonna hurt soooo good.” Then she slashed me a crossed my chest, laughing and dancing away.
Next, it was Hugo’s turn. He asked me again to tell him where the child was, when I didn’t answer he took pleasure in breaking a few ribs. They were careful not to damage me too bad at first. Yet with each unanswered question their frustration grew and the attacks became worse.
Finally, when it became apparent I wasn’t giving up any information, they stopped. That’s when he spoke. His voice was very deep and yet unusually quiet. His voice should’ve echoed around he room like the others but it was lost, almost dead before it could be heard. Who has that kind of power?” Liet broke off in mid-story to ask Goddess Imerra.
“There are many beings that can change the sound of their voice at will. They can change it so much as to mimic the voice of others, even those of the opposite sex, but only a God would have the power to affect their voice in such a way,” answered Imerra, as she stood and began pacing the room.
“Any idea which God we’re dealing with?” Ky asked, concerned that Goddess Imerra had said no more.
In response to his question she stopped pacing, looked directly to Ky, then vanished. He ran to the space she previously occupied and called out to her telepathically, “Goddess?”
“It’s alright. I’ve something to check on stay there, watch Liet, and don’t tell Mina about a possible God being involved. You can fill her in on everything else. I’ll return as soon as it’s safe.”
He told Liet what Imerra said then asked, “How did you manage to get away?”
“That’s the strangest part brother. I was straining to hear what they were saying but I couldn’t get anything. Maybe one of those hard blows to my head messed with my hearing. I don’t know but I did hear him finally instruct Amanita to transport me to the border. He told her to leave me to die. She squealed with delight as she approached me for the final time.
Once out in the snow and cold she dropped me to the ground. Leaned in and whispered in my ear saying, “Give up you’re never gonna win. We’ll find the brat and take over. Too bad no one will hear you scream.” Laughing, she sliced me one last time then flashed away. I was on the edge of consciousness when I tried to flash to the Goddess. The last thing I remember is hitting something hard, a wave of pain crashing over me and the darkness swallowing me,” Liet finished speaking and closed his eyes to rest for a moment.
Ky thought about everything he reported. It didn’t make any sense for them to let Liet live. And who was this other God? He was still deep in thought when Mina returned with food and Fay in toe.
“Lord Fennik is still sleeping. How long did it take to heal Liet, last night?” Mina inquired.
“I can’t say. I fell asleep at some point in the night. Goddess Imerra has left, she will be back as soon as possible; and before you ask I don’t know why she left. You know how she can be.”
“Yeah I know,” Fay returned curtly. “She always leaves at just that right inopportune moment. Humph,” sighing she plops down into the closest chair. She gestures to Liet while saying, “Has this one been awake yet?”
“As a matter of fact yes he has,” Ky answered, walking over to the cart for breakfast.
“Well, are you going to fill us in?” Demanded Fay.