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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2167587
Rated: 18+ · Fiction · Sci-fi · #2167587
Maryn Tylser, an old scientist tries to make his dream of floating cities a reality.

History is full of twists and turns, secrets and betrayals, so to ask how the present time came to be is far more complicated than one could imagine. Yet, the lessons that the past holds for us is worth the investigation. Ages come and go, some unnoticed and forgotten. It is our duty, as students of history, to bring the forgotten back into the light.


Prologue


Arc^1126, 2nd era of the Skylar Dynasty, Salatoria

Here, in the middle of the upper plains, Maryn Tysler was proving what many believed impossible. He slowly walked beneath a massive piece of bedrock a mile wide and several stories tall, known as Highrock. Support beams and scaffolding kept the rock from crushing him and the workers. As he walked, he watched with studious care as gem crafters, and stonemasons carefully attached large, plesaxtech class-A balancing crystals to the rock face. Maryn would soon link the balancing crystals to anchor crystals imbedded into stone pillars. This would keep the giant boulder steady while suspending it high above the ground.

Maryn had spent over 20 years on making his dream a reality. His dream was to make the very first levitating city in the world. But this wasn't a city, it was a rock. A really, really big rock. The Great Emperor Chorlan and his advisors wanted a large-scale test project. They wanted to make absolutely certain that the wind wouldn't tip it like a ship at sea or that it wouldn't come crashing down. No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't get it through their heads that he had run the crucial tests at his laboratory. The plesaxtech crystals were programmed flawlessly.

Now, if only the workers would stop breaking the crystals, he grumbled in his thoughts. Crystals large enough to be used as balancers and anchors were difficult to find. The exhausting work of carving, shaping, and soldering several intricate circuits into them made them priceless. As if to mock him, a sharp cracking noise caught his attention. He sighed in frustration before approaching the stone mason.

"After you finish picking up the pieces," Maryn said, "please let the gem crafters know that a replacement is needed. Speak to Talak about receiving your pay. Then pack your things and return home." The man looked up at him in shock.

"Home? You're sending me home? Aren't you already short-handed?"

"We will make do, just as we have been." Maryn replied, "I gave you a second chance, just like everyone else that has broken a crystal. I don't have the time or the money to waste on your carelessness. I won't give you an opportunity to break a third."

"But..." The man gave up when Maryn turned and left. He had no patience to stand there and argue any further.

Slowly he made his way toward the scaffolding that would lead him back to the surface. The hundreds of wood and iron support beams created a cramped maze for him to get through. There were times when it was difficult to keep his black wings from bumping against them. Wings... I still wonder why the gods 'blessed' some people with them.

A couple hundred years earlier, those loyal to the imperial Skylar family were driven from their homeland. After braving the wide Brazeonic Ocean, they eventually landed here. About fifty years later a few young children began developing wings. Now, most Salatines had wings and there was a well-defined line in the social structure between them and the wingless.

Maryn finally made his way back to the surface and out of the insufferable space beneath the rock. He took a deep breath, feeling relieved. Having wings meant varying degrees of claustrophobia. Open air, the freedom to spread one's wings, was a necessity. Wingless people, called mudders, had the option of getting into tight spaces without getting uncomfortable. Out of all mudders, the strongest were Cimmerians.

Cimmerians were the original, primitive race that inhabited this land. Their grey skin turns almost black when tanned in the sunlight. Every single one had white hair and blue eyes. Some blue eyes were darker, while a few looked almost as white as their hair. The Cimmerians were also much taller than the Salatines. In fact, Maryn couldn't remember seeing one less than a head taller than the tallest Salatine. Despite their great size, they had exceedingly meek behavior. They seemed to have absolutely no aggression, individually, or as a race. It didn't take very long for Salatines to use Cimmerians as laborers after they settled this land.

Maryn became lost in thought as he walked through the camp. If the gods intention when giving us wings was to separate Salatines and Cimmerians, then they will bless my work. If not, then I will fail. Who am I to work against the will of the gods? He rubbed the scar on the back of his neck. That is, if they truly are gods. Suddenly he noticed his foreman, a Cimmerian named Talak who oversaw the groundwork.

"Another finished crystal broke. Please tell me that a new shipment has arrived." He said, looking up at the giant Talak.

"You know how difficult the crystals are to harvest and transport. It is better if they take their time getting them here." Talak sighed while looking down at him. They have had this discussion many times, as if Maryn's determination would make crystals appear from thin air.

"Well, if the incompetent fools down there break any more there won't be enough class-A crystals to finish." Maryn persisted.

"You want them to be careful, yet you want them to work as quickly. Perhaps if they weren't so rushed they would break less." Talak fell into step with Maryn, taking one step for Maryn's two, "I was thinking: if you used all of the Class-A crystals to make this rock float there wouldn't be enough crystals to raise a single city, should the Emperor desire that. Instead of covering the entire bottom of this rock in Class-A's, I suggest alternating the upper edge with the class-A's at the pillar links, class-B at strategic intervals, and class-D for the rest. With the energy you need, it should have a few class-A or B crystals at the bottom as well. The honeycomb pattern and linked circuitry would enhance the strength and make up for the weaker, smaller crystals. This would successfully reduce the quantity of crystals needed without destabilizing the whole project." Talak handed over a simple diagram with equations and geometric designs. "Just like a net made of threads holds as much weight as a thick cable."

"Perhaps I have judged you too harshly, Talak. And it appears that I have been outsmarted by you mathematically as well." Relief was plain to see on Talak's large face as Maryn looked over the diagram. "Yes, this appears to have promise and would definitely help. Send word immediately for them to ship us graduated sizes of crystal."

"I was hoping that you would like it. I kept the smaller crystals that you wanted sent back. I had a feeling that you might need them." Talak smiled. When he noticed Maryn's confused look he added, "I didn't tell you I was working on it because I knew you wouldn't take the time to consider it if the mathematics weren't there to prove my theory."

"Good," Maryn nodded, "then assemble the men tomorrow and explain the changes so they can start working the crystals as soon as possible. I want this rock floating, and quickly. By the way, how are the pillars?"

"The pillars are mostly finished and have been moved to their positions... except the master pillar of course."

"Is it possible that we could finish within the moon?" Maryn's brow furrowed as his thoughts deepened.

"I do not see why we couldn't, and with the end being near it will make everyone work harder." They walked quietly together until Talak pointed to a tent set off to the side that Maryn hadn't noticed before. There they separated; Talak to figure out exactly what to tell the workers, and Maryn into the tent to re-evaluate the crystals he had so carelessly dismissed. Perhaps there are other patterns that would work to reduce the quantity of crystals needed even further. Good thinking Talak. The excitement made the days fly past.

Two weeks later Maryn sent word to the Emperor, Highrock was finished and ready to launch. By then, wood and steel beams supported the entire mass of Highrock. Crystals pockmarked the surface of its underbelly, while the six pillars waited next to their own winches for their new homes beneath the stone. Every balancing crystal had been carefully activated, and the master pillar cautiously lowered beneath the giant rock. Excitement charged the air, not only because they were almost finished, but because the Emperor was coming to watch the raising.

The late afternoon sun burned bright and hot as Maryn watched the southern skies in anticipation of the Emperor's arrival. It only takes three days to fly the distance from the capital city of Glinwood to the northern shores. The Emperor wasn't actually late, but Maryn's patience was waning in anticipation of his arrival. No matter the occasion, an emperor is never late. To say such is bad for your health, he continued to remind himself.

As dusk fell, a call went out from a watchman. Maryn put the spyglass up to his eye to search the skies again, finding the black dots blotting the sky a little further east than expected. They were skirting the edge of the Aerin Sea. He quickly noticed that one was flying much further ahead than the others and would be at the camp within the hour. Maryn nearly collapsed with relief because that would most likely be the herald. He spun on his heal to the other gawkers.

"Hurry, make sure His Majesty's, His Holiness's, and the advisors' tents are up and ready." Maryn began barking orders. "You there, go to the cooks and make sure they have a feast prepared. I'm sure our guests will all be hungry from the long flight." The crowd erupted into chaos while the camp was readied. Huge crystal-light torches, one of his early plesaxtech inventions, were set out in a wide path to welcome the late flyers. Maryn watched the herald circle above, slowly descending from the sky. Once he landed, Maryn nervously approached him, still anxiously awaiting what he had to say.

"What news? Is it truly the Emperor we see in the skies?" He grabbed the exhausted young man. "Tell me! Is it him?" The herald managed a breath and a nod. Maryn released him, called for some water and food, and then waited until the herald could speak. "How many travel with him?"

"Two hundred and forty, Sir. The host does include the Emperor, his young wife and son, all four advisors, and His Holiness. Some who wish to see you succeed, and many who wish to see you fail." When seeing Maryn's inner rage light within his eyes, the herald quickly added, "Forgive me, I was cursed with an honest tongue.

"Why would any of the upper court wish to see me fail?" confusion clouded Maryn's mind. He had always been well respected at court, especially by the young Emperor's father before he passed.

"They believe your mission to be that of a fool. Or perhaps it is because you are so great and powerful, they would find humor in your fall." Maryn's rage had reached a breaking point.

"And do you believe me to be a fool?" With a slow, icy tone he asked, "Do you find me humorous?" The young man gulped, caught in his hard stare.

"I think your work is honorable. It is not my place to judge someone blessed by the gods with more talent than I could ever dream of possessing. If you could truly make a city fly, with no ill-treatment from the wind and storms, it would be magnificent. I only wished to warn you of the coming storm."

The old man's anger cooled outwardly. He was not angry with the boy, but at those that would doubt him. Now uncertain if the young emperor had ever wanted him to succeed, doubt fogged his purpose. He was still determined to prove them wrong, despite any consequences. He dismissed the herald and made his way back to his tent to ready himself for their arrival. After washing up and donning his second-best robes, saving the best for tomorrow, he made his way back to the field to the south of camp. The skies had grown dark, but not enough to hide the mass of upper court and their retainers heading closer.

Time dragged by slowly, as if to make Maryn feel older by the minute. Then it seemed as if time had decided to speed up again as the Emperor was suddenly diving down to land. He wore a light leather armor fringed with gold chainmail and blazoned with the Skylar crest: a winged star. There was no mistaking the young Emperor, tall and sinewy, with golden brown hair and a fair complexion. In his eyes was the openness of a man that had never seen battle and had never known defeat. Beside him, his young wife gently landed with their infant son, Emitt Skylar, wrapped in a sling tight to her body. Then it seemed the field erupted with wings and people as the rest landed behind them.

"Welcome, your magnificence." Maryn quickly walked forward and kneeled in front of him. "There is a feast in your honor and your tents are prepared."

"Good Job, Maryn. You may rise. I must say that I have been anticipating what you have to show me tomorrow." Chorlan said with a jovial smile. Maryn seethed inwardly but refused to let his anger show.

"You will not be disappointed."

"Good. Now excuse us, the flight was very tiring." Chorlan walked past into the camp amidst the bows of the workers. Maryn suffered the smiles, snickers, and stares of the upper court as they passed him as well.

The long day had left him feeling physically exhausted, while Chorlan's arrival now left him emotionally weary. Feeling older than ever before, he made his way back to his tent to try his best for a restful night's sleep. Instead, his insecurities haunted his dreams.

Maryn woke before sunrise. He quickly dressed himself in his best robes, then hurried to find Talak. They almost collided as Maryn rounded the corner of his tent. The sun was barely cresting over the Aerin Sea and the grass was still wet with dew as they made their way to Highrock. Workers were already starting to mill about, wondering exactly what they needed to do to help justify the last six moons' worth of work. Slowly he walked up to the nearest pillar, gently rubbing the rough stone. He moved to caressing the sharp angles and swirls of the circuitry carved into the plesaxtech imbedded into the stone pillar. Talak walked nervously behind him. Maryn turned and addressed him.

"Make sure there is one engineer assigned to each of the eight pillars. We need to activate the outer pillars at the same time. The upper ring of crystals will link to each pillar. I already activated them and linked together the smaller crystal network. This means that when you activate the pillars, Highrock will start floating on its own. As soon as it is floating, I will need another team of men to raise the master pillar into position at the base. Then I will activate it to solidify and finish the energy field, like a keystone in an arch. Highrock will rise into the air about 500 feet. Any questions?"

"What happens if one of the pillars is activated sooner on one side?"

"Well, theoretically, it could push Highrock over, pressing it to the other side, destroying the braces, and potentially crushing everything beneath it."

"Do you have an idea on how to send a signal all the way around Highrock at the same time?"

"I'm glad you asked." Maryn replied. "A volunteer will fly up to the center of the rock and set off this flare." He pulled a long red flare from an inside pocket of his robes. "It would be seen by everyone at the same time."

"One last question. When do you want to start?" Talak asked. Maryn nodded, thinking about all the nobles and the imperial family, still asleep in their tents from the exhausting flight, brought the return of his anger.

"Now."

"Now?" Talak asked, unsure if he heard correctly.

"Now." Maryn said with even more conviction.

Talak rushed to the growing crowd and started assigning everyone tasks. The best he put in a group to work the winch and handle the master pillar. Realizing the support beams would be in the way of the winch's descent, he put together another group to clear away the soon unnecessary supports to make a pathway down. To the crowd not assigned any responsibility, he turned and asked for a single, winged volunteer to send the flare into the sky. Young Kallius stepped forward through the stares and muttering. Talak took note of the young man's bravery and handed him the flare.

"Set this off after the activation engineers have reached their positions. Give them a moment to ready themselves, and make sure you point it straight into the sky." Talak turned and walked back to Maryn, who had been standing quietly by the pillar the whole time. "It is done. That extra group over there is for the master crystal, and that other group will clear the support beams out of the way of the winch.

"I knew there was a reason I hired you. Great job." Maryn smiled and Talak beamed at the praise.

"Are you certain you want to start before the Emperor and High Priest gives you their blessing?"

"Absolutely. The only blessing I need is the god's. Besides, the Emperor's blessing on this project is only a joke to the upper court. I will not have them disgrace me in that fashion." Talak gave him a strange look but said nothing.

The peach hues of dawn turned to gold as the sun finished its ascent above the eastern horizon. Everyone was hurrying into position. The retainers and servants of the court were just starting to wake. Being concerned with their lords and ladies' breakfasts, they had little care for what Maryn and his men were doing. Soon the golden hues in the sky made way to brilliant blues of day. The spectators seemed to hold their breath with expectation.

Moments later the bright light of the red flair zipped up and disappeared into the sky above, giving off a sudden boom at the height of its ascent. The deep grooves carefully carved into each pillar started to glow a soft green as the eight engineers activated the plesaxtech. For a moment, there was complete silence, as if the gods themselves held their breath in anticipation. The circuits on the upper crystals of Highrock started to glow as the pillars glowed brighter. Slowly the light green glow spread from crystal to crystal.

"Beautiful..." Talak managed to whisper.

Everyone stood in silent awe, staring at the largest circuit of connected plesaxtech anyone had ever seen. A loud and sudden CRACK resonated out as Highrock raised a fraction of an inch, causing one of the supports to fall. Soon a near deafening ruckus filled the air, the sound of hundreds of wood and steal support beams breaking or falling.

Maryn gave a nod at Talak. He swallowed nervously and called for the first team to remove the supports, making the pathway down. Maryn waited patiently as the strong, young mudders worked vigorously. He eased his impatience by clutching at a small piece of plesaxtech in a hidden pocket of his robes. Gods show pity in such strange ways, he thought as he remembered how he received his small gift.

Within the half-hour the path down was cleared. Relief was evident on the men's faces that Highrock hadn't fallen and crushed them, even though the massive rock was a few feet higher than before. Without a word, the second team started hauling the winch down. Their progress was slow and impatience goaded Maryn to walk behind them.

Finally, they reached the master pillar and Talak wasted no time. As swiftly as possible, they tied the pillar to the winch. With much cursing and struggling, not to mention a few bruises, they pulled, pushed, and slid the massive pillar into its deep hole. As the ominous thud echoed out of the pit the team of men cheered. Maryn blinked the dust out of his eyes that had grown thick in the air. Smiling he patted Talak on the back, repeating his earlier sentiments through heavy breathing.

"I knew there was a reason I hired you."

Maryn slowly approached the pillar, followed by the men. Gently he caressed the deep grooves of the circuitry and a smile lit upon his aged face. Carefully, so no one noticed, he drew the small piece of plesaxtech, the original plesaxtech, from the pocket in his robes. He focused his thoughts, drawing on his determination and drew a long dagger from his side. Placing both in his right hand, he flinched as he cut the palm, slicing deep. The men coughed and stared through the thick dust, watching the red blood drip onto the dirt at Maryn's feet. Slowly he reached with his cut hand, making sure that no one saw the small crystal he placed in a small slot in the pillar. His blood flowed over the plesaxtech and stone. The pillar began to glow just like the other eight, only bright white. Carefully he pulled the small crystal back out and stepped back with his whole arm shaking with pain.

The glow from the pillar and the center crystals directly above it connected and intensified suddenly. Everyone crouched or fell to the ground as air violently whooshed into the vacuum caused by the giant piece of solid rock lifting into the air. With the master pillar activated, everything stabilized, and the men made their way out of the giant pit.

Talak chose to stay behind. He walked over to the old man while ripping his shirt. Silently Talak forced Maryn's hand open, silently cleaned the small crystal, and then used the cloth to bind the cut. They stared at each other for a moment before Talak placed the small crystal back in the cut hand and helped Maryn to his feet. The old man hid the crystal in his pocket and started to fall back to the ground. Talak grabbed him and carried him out. It didn't take Maryn long to realize that the crowd had clustered around the edge of the pit and were watching him.

"Thank you, but you can put me down now." Maryn said when Talak stopped and inspected the crowd above them.

"Your pride is going to kill you." Talak whispered. With a sigh, Talak gently lowered him back to the ground and let him stand on his own. From there Maryn worked his way up the scaffolding. They had proven very useful for attaching the crystals earlier. Now they clung to the sides of the pit, lifeless and empty like a skeleton clinging onto the hope of continued life. Slowly and stubbornly, they climbed the creaking planks until at last they reached the top.

The crowd cheered and congratulated them, surrounding and pushing them deeper into the throng of onlookers. Suddenly the crowd hushed as the Great Emperor Chorlan approached, wings spread wide. Chorlan, his wife, and his personal guard were white glittering diamonds in the mid-morning light. Everyone was soon kneeling, except for Maryn who simply bowed low.

"Maryn, you couldn't wait a few more hours?" Chorlan laughed, "You're a crazy, impatient old man." He walked closer, forcing all the people surrounding Maryn to back away quickly. As soon as Chorlan was next to him, he lowered his golden-brown wings. Maryn stood straight, looking the Emperor in the eyes.

"I have shown you the glory of Highrock, do you still deny it?"

"No, quite on the contrary, this has inspired me." He looked down at the cut hand. "What happened to your hand? It had looked fine last night if my memory is correct."

"I cut it for the last activation."

The Emperor gave him a strange, vacant, confused look. Many have given him that look when they couldn't grasp a concept, as if their face could ask the questions for them. Even though he could usually guess their questions, he always waited until they finally got the nerve to sound stupid. What none of them seemed to realize, and the Emperor included, was that it didn't matter if they sounded stupid because they already looked stupid. The Great Emperor Chorlan quickly recovered and asked the anticipated question.

"Why?"

"I wanted to insure the blessing of the gods with a small sacrifice of my own blood." He lied but stared into Chorlan's eyes, demanding the young Emperor to call him on it. This was the only way he knew how to keep his secret from the world.

"Aren't sacrifices usually done in a temple?"

"Yes, of course they are," Maryn answered, trying to keep his voice steady, "but even the priests recognize that sacrifices offered at other places because of odd circumstances are still welcomed and warranted. The gods are always pleased to receive sacrifices when done for a good purpose and with a willing heart." Chorlan mulled it over for only a moment.

"Ok," he said with his charming smile, "I give you full permission and funding for this to be done on our largest cities. But, before I can give any solid plans, I will have to test it to make sure it is as solid as you say it is. I need put the fears of the advisors, my wife, and the upper court to rest."

True to his word, various people that couldn't understand the complexity of the plesaxtech circuitry ran several incompetent tests. They deemed Highrock stable and its energy field solid. Maryn retired from watching them after the heat of the afternoon weakened his reserve. As he expected, Talak followed him to his tent.

"Sir," Talak spoke quietly after determining that there was no one around to hear them, "you need to tell me why you hide what you hide."

"I can't explain it. It is my secret. My burden to bear." Maryn instinctively rubbed his chest, where the small crystal usually hung. Panic swept through him for a moment, until he remembered the pocket. Taking the small crystal out, he hung it on the chain around his neck and hid it once again beneath the folds of his robes.

"You don't need to bear it alone. I see that it weighs on your heart." Pointing to Maryn's wounded hand he continued, "And, it is slowly destroying your soul. Are you willing to kill yourself to protect it?" There was a long moment of silence.

"I fear what could happen if I revealed its origins," Maryn finally said.

"But what will happen if you don't?"

"I don't know." Maryn gave a large sigh, "I fear that anyone I share this burden with will incur the wrath of the gods."

"I am a Cimmerian, sir," Talak said slowly, "your gods are not my gods. They have never given my people anything. We bear their wrath for simply existing." Both sat in thoughtful silence before Talak continued, "Do you not fear the wrath of your gods?"

"Not for myself, no," Maryn whispered, hanging his head in shame. "Sometimes I doubt if they are gods at all. And even with my doubts, no great plague besets me. They do not strike me down, as if they do not know my thoughts." The words were out. He knew he could never retract them, but still felt the shame of uttering them. Maryn, overwhelmed to tears, cried for the first time in many years.

"Tell me why you feel this way," Talak said softly, taking him into his comforting arms, cradling the small old man as if he was a young child. Once the tears had started, they didn't want to stop. All Maryn was able to do was move the robes from the back of his neck, showing a triangular scar. The triangle was three, very simple looking dots placed very accurately over his spine. "Maryn, where did you get this?"

"The gods," Maryn said spitefully, remembering the night well. "They choose young mudder children, like me, and give them wings."

"I had heard of this from my grandfather; young children waking up in the morning with wounds on their backs. Over the next few moons, those children grow wings. Even with the stories, I have never seen a scar like yours before, such a thing must be rare now." Maryn let the robes cover it back up as his tears finally stopped. Talak continued trying to draw him out, "So, why do you think it might be something other than gods to cause such a mark?"

"Because, unlike the other children who slept through it and remembered nothing, I woke up," He motioned to the crystal around his neck, "I woke up."

Maryn refused to say another word. Instead, he lost himself in his memories...



Arc^1128

With limitless financial resources, Maryn and Talak managed raising four cities within two years. None of them had been easy, but Seaview had been the most difficult since the trench liked to fill with ocean water at high tide. It amazed him that Chorlan wanted the largest port city to be flying. Even still, it didn't take long for mudders and wetfooters to build a new port almost directly beneath Seaview.

Today was the activation day for the last city the Emperor wanted in the sky, the capital city, Glinwood. It was a long five moons of hard labor. The sun was cresting on the morning of the rising and Maryn was surprised to find Chorlan standing where Talak should have been. He cautiously approached, still not trustful of the young emperor.

"Maryn, I was hoping that you would grant me the honor of watching you activate the master pillar of Glinwood today." He smiled hopefully. Maryn nodded quietly in agreement.

Knowing that it wasn't a question and that Chorlan had sent Talak away irritated him. He was not prepared for this. Talak's loyalty astounded him the most. He'd kept Maryn's secret and always made sure the master-pillar team left the pit early before activating the pillar so that he wouldn't need to cut his hand. Now Maryn needed someone to help him climb out of the pit after he finished, and he wasn't sure the Emperor would demean himself in that manner. Still, he really had no choice but was sure someone would eventually come to his aid.

It didn't take long for the now well-experienced crew to activate the outer pillars and start moving the winch for the master pillar underneath. During the excitement, while no one was watching, he moved the hidden crystal from his neck back into his pocket. Maryn slowly made his way down with Chorlan following, muscles and joints ached with each movement. He was truly grateful that after today he could live the rest of his life peacefully, enjoying the last few years.

By the time both men reached the master pillar it was already in its hole and the workers were on their way out. Maryn lovingly caressed the carved plesaxtech that was beautifully and masterfully faceted into the stone pillar, bringing back memories of the day he designed it. Maryn was proud of his work and everything he had accomplished, surprised to have gotten this far. It justified his life.

Hoping the Emperor wasn't watching too closely, he tried to sneak the activation crystal out of his pocket. Carefully he placed the crystal in its spot, the stone grew in power, and the city began to rise. Looking over his shoulder, he noticed Chorlan praying. Exhaustion fogged his mind as Maryn thought, How strange, the Emperor is praying. Chorlan had never seemed a religiously devout man.

With nervous fumbling, he put the crystal back in his pocket. The sound of a sword drawn from its sheath echoed softly over the quiet hum of the pillar. Maryn never even had the time turn his head before Chorlan's blade passed through his ribs and protruded from his chest. Chorlan quickly withdrew the blade, grabbed Maryn's body, and leaned it against the pillar.

Maryn felt the blood flow and his life grow dim as he slid to the ground. A split second later the pillar had gathered enough energy and Glinwood rose high into the sky. It flew higher than every other flying city, just as he had hoped.

"Don't worry," Chorlan said. He bent down to collect the small crystal hidden in the pocket, "Talak tried his best to keep his word. Torture works wonders to loosen people's tongues. I knew you were hiding something when we spoke at Highrock. No other plesaxtech glows white and no one sacrifices their own blood to the gods unless they want to die. I didn't believe you wanted to die." With no emotion, the Emperor wiped his blade on a clean spot of Maryn's robes. Maryn watched with quickly dimming sight as Chorlan stretched his large eagle wings and flew away.

Poor Talak, I shall see you soon. Please my dear gods, he prayed with his last thoughts, forgive him...and forgive me for failing you.



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