Part 47: Rescue

10 to Verdant Sun, Inalis

Oh, I forgot to mention this! You wouldn’t believe this if I told you, Heath. I tried to intimidate Demitri. Or rather, his true name is Malikos. But the intimidation: oh, it did not go well. This man, once a high-ranking member of the League of Storms, was suddenly going to be on our side? It seemed fishy to all of us. I pulled out my dagger to try to be all cool and tough like Clio and Shadow, but I just dropped it. Even Malikos thought it was endearing and wholly ineffective.

Anyway, on our way out of the Adonian Canyon, I had a quick discussion with Shadow about something that had been on my mind for a while. I explained to him that I can cast a spell that allows me to speak with the dead. Necromancy isn’t strictly taboo in my religion, but it’s not exactly super acceptable, but I could question the slain soldiers of the League of Storms or the draconian dreadnaught. Shadow thought it might be a good idea to interrogate the dracocian, so he took off its head (ew!) and brought it with us. I think my companions may have thought that a little macabre.

So we’re at camp now, and we’ve had a chance to discuss things with Malikos. He was thankful that we were able to rescue him and explained the reason why he turned on the League of Storms. The dogma that the League all believes is that the Twin Titans will raze Ellandyr and the rest of the Emerald Isles, but then will turn it over to the League to rebuild and bring a true peace to the land, unlike what they deem to be a false pretense of peace provided by the Five Immortals. Malikos however learned that this is not the case at all. The Lord of Storms wants no peace. He wants war and to conquer.

What gave this away to Malikos? He noticed some strange things happening on the Isle of Yonder, the home base of the League of Storms. People in the soldier family village were going missing. Malikos investigated this and learned that the sick, elderly, or lonely were being fed to a massive army of draconians that were breeding below the fortresses. People who were supposed to believe in the benevolence of the titans were used as nothing but fodder for Amalj’aa’s engines of war. And Malikos’s superiors told him to ignore it. To ignore the blatant lies and murder happening before his very eyes!

Malikos fled. He escaped to Ellandyr and expected to die in the Adonian Canyon tonight. We rescued him and now he wants to help us, to show the people of the Emerald Isles the lies of the titans. We gained a new ally tonight. How did we know the truth of this? He cast a truth spell, forcing him to tell us everything we ask. I recognized the spell as its somatic components are the same as what I can do.

Malikos also told us some ideas he has of invading the Isle of Yonder and-

I can’t. I can’t talk about it. Not yet.

We had a lot of questions for Malikos before we exhausted ourselves, each of us injured in our own ways. Now we’re all lying on the ground, huddled close, trying our best to get some sleep.

I can’t sleep.

He knows my mother. He knows where Riesz is. She’s held captive on the Isle of Yonder. Malikos has seen her. She was placed in a silencing chamber on the recommendation of that snake Chondrus, the tiefling in bed with the Lady of Dreams. He told them to silence my mother! To keep her from speaking to me!

I will kill him if I see him.

No, this isn’t like you, Flee. This isn’t me, Heath.

Malikos told me that the only reason Mother is alive is because she’s a holy person. The Lord of Storms wants to conquer the rest of the world and its gods as soon as he is done with the Emerald Isles. The League wants information from her. Can’t they see she is elderly? Have they absolutely no hearts?

I’m struggling with something, Heath. I want to tell this to Shadow, but I can’t bring it up to him. Maybe I will talk to Clio about it sometime. I’ve never enjoyed using my gifts for hurting people. Killing the people of the League of Storms has never been easy. Killing Korteva was terrible. Killing Boreas nearly drove me to madness. Tonight, though? After what Malikos told me? I’m split, Heath. I’m torn. These people are hellbent on bringing ruin and devastation to people. They’re so deeply indoctrinated in their beliefs that they cannot see how the titans slaughtering tens of thousands of innocent lives is a bad thing. How can this be? And at the same time, they have families on the Isle of Yonder. Wives and husbands, lovers, children, parents, friends. Can one be content to kill while having love at home?

How different are we, then? We follow the dogma of the Five Immortals, each in our own ways. The Five tell us that we have to stop the titans lest they enslave all of the Emerald Isles. We accept this because we’ve spoken with them and feel connection to them. Our family is here, in the Heroes of Prophecy. Do Gaius and Chondrus feel the same about Amalj’aa and Khar’shan? They speak to their gods. Right?

No, that cannot be right. Amalj’aa brought a storm to Ellandyr to vex the people because he felt slighted in Altea. How is that just? Khar’shan throws harpies at Clio as a joke. How is that fair?

I stand with the Five. I have to.

Where is the Morninglord? And where is his sunlight? Where is the dawn to end this endless night that I am stuck in? Is it Kiora, one of the Five Immortals, that guides me now? Am I outside the domain of the one who saved me from myself? Have I lost my connection with the Morninglord, the one stopped me from killing myself? What am I to Kiora? Who am I in the Emerald Isles, then, if my god does not guide me?

And for me killing the League of Storms? Heath, it’s easy to do it now. Not because my magic is stronger or because I lean on my friends more. No, it’s just easier to do because I now know their endgame. They bring suffering. They bring murder. They bring torture. I cannot let the titans win. And I will kill any of that get in the way. The safety of Ellandyr requires me to do that which I’ve always told myself to never do. Actaeon told me months ago that I have to kill, and I have to desensitize myself to it. I swore to him and the others that I would never be that way. I would never harden my heart like this.

But I did.

Clio was wrong about me.

I am a monster.

9 to Verdant Sun, Inalis

It’s a new day and I need to get over myself. I can’t abide being weak, not in front of my friends. I read what I wrote last night and nearly tore out the page. “Stay strong, my love,” you would always tell me, in your adorable stutter. I’ll stay strong.

Things look a little dire for us right now but I think we can manage. The others had a long conversation with Malikos this morning and we came up with a plan for sneaking into the Isle of Yonder. Our goals: First, Shadow convinced the others that we are going to free Mother. Whatever information she is unwillingly feeding the League about Ylisse is going to stop. Second, Actaeon’s dragonlord armor is on that island, specifically in Commander Gaius’s personal quarters and we mean to retrieve it. Third, the library on Yonder is vast and may have information pertaining to Clio’s gifts among other things. Fourth: a piece of the Antikytheria device, the compass to navigate our ship through the seas, is there somewhere. And a fifth goal I have is more personal: Chondrus must die.

The trick is getting into the fortress. It is heavily guarded by gorgons, gygans, many soldiers, and Gaius’s dragon Laxus is there somewhere. We need to be sneaky to get done the things we need to.

Malikos believes we can get in through the north side of the island. There is a sheer cliff that will be incredibly hard to climb. If we can get up there, we should be able to enter without alerting the League. They do not cover that part of the island, thinking it to be unassailable due to the cliffs. If we can sail Gjallarhorn that way under the cover of a magical fog, we should be able to access the fortress. It’s our best chance right now.

This morning, we quickly did the spell to speak with the dead draconian. I disguised myself as Gaius to do so. We learned that the League of Storms believes their fortress to have no weaknesses, thus confirming that climbing up to the north side of the island is our best chance. The League has dragon eggs from Ukaizo, Amalj’aa’s tower and are using these eggs to breed a draconian army. There are yet no mages amongst the draconians, which is a very good thing.

So we prepared for the journey home. Shadow caught but lost a badger pet. Malikos found us a few saddled Riding Lizards from the soldiers that had pursued him to the Adonian Canyon so we could more easily ride home. And now, we’re on our way back to Ellandyr to prepare for our departure. I’ll write more later.

You know how you always wanted a child and I didn’t? Well, here we are, Heath! I have a child now! Congratulations, you’re a dad!

Haha, I couldn’t help writing that and smiling! Though it may be difficult for me to write from time to time. Little Sa’kull, my adopted child, keeps eating my quills.

Let me back up. We got back to Ellandyr before sundown and thought to get ready to leave. Clio and Briar snuck Malikos into the Starfall Estate while the rest of us went to sell these Riding Lizards we stole found borrowed found. We went to the Great Menagerie, a tent in the Bazaar, to do business and found ourselves in the strangest place I think I’ve yet found myself in here in the Emerald Isles. The proprietor called themselves the collector and had a wide variety of creatures for sale. A few things were understandable like riding dinosaurs and the like, and we were able to sell off the Riding Lizards without much of a problem.

But here’s the weird thing. The collector had other things for sale. One was a centaur boy, a child of around ten to twelve years of age from the scorpion tribe. His name is Karador and he looked malnourished and in bad shape. We took pity on him and traded our Riding Lizards for him, and the collector passed on his oath to Rendu. The boy looked displeased but we’ll get back to that.

Actaeon found a strangely quiet and injured harpy and decided to purchase her. He figured something was up with her and wanted to investigate, though it ended up costing him a bit of money. Shadow purchased a sabertooth tiger and quickly took it up to the palace for training with a beastmaster.

So what did I do? Well, there was a young lizardfolk boy there, too. Like Karador, this one was extremely malnourished and looked very sickly. I remembered that the lizardfolk we fought a while back spoke draconic so I tried speaking to him. He told me his name is Sa’kull and he is from Fire Island. A few things went through my head. The quietest thing was that he might be useful for getting us an audience with the leadership of Fire Island if we return one of their own back home. The second and more pronounced thing in my head is that I couldn’t leave this child here to suffer in the collector’s care.

So I bought him. Sa’kull is a little naughty and unruly, but he’s a sweet child and is remarkably chipper once we got some food in his poor little belly. He is incredibly cute and handsome and already knows his colors! He called me ‘gray meat’. I know, I know, Lizardfolk only think of everyone else as food, but he’s so smart already! I am going to take good care of him. I hope his family on Fire Island is happy to have him back.

We returned to the Starfall Estate and had to think about how to explain all of this to everyone, but we found the Estate in a bit of a panic. Dia met with Clio and Briar and informed them that the King means to quietly kill us tomorrow. It seems our fame in Ellandyr has become problematic for him. Thus our plans for leaving Ellandyr have been accelerated. We must leave tomorrow morning.

We each explained the people that we brought with us from the Great Menagerie. Clio was apprehensive (or angry, I can’t tell sometimes) about the harpy until she and Actaeon discovered that this wasn’t a harpy at all! The girl was actually a siren that someone dressed up as a harpy. The collector must have thought this was such a funny joke, or something awful like that.

Karador and Briar and Pholon are all getting along very well. Briar has been in the kitchen all night making food for Karador and Sa’kull. Little Sa’kull is pleasant but keeps biting me slightly. Not to worry, I can always magically mend my clothes! Clio has been deep in thought. Torag is oddly quiet tonight, trying to meditate. Rendu spent his time with centaurs, getting to know them all pretty well. Actaeon is keeping guard outside of his own room where the siren girl is trying to rest and recover. Shadow returned and started packing his supplies and gear as well. Corinna and Ilharg spent much of their time gathering packs and supplies.

I think we’re as ready as we can be to leave Ellandyr now.

The house is quiet but restless tonight. None of us are going to sleep well, I think. I glanced out to the courtyard where Clio and Briar are asleep outside my window. We chatted for a bit before we all tried to go to sleep once more. Actaeon is pacing, his heavy boots echoing in the hallway. And Sa’kull is gnawing on my boot while he sleeps. I know he’s not actually my child. More like a ward. But I mean to get him back to his people. He’s a child. He deserves love and care, much like what Mother provided for me all those years ago.

Did you ever think about your father, Heath? After he passed, I mean, and before you came to the temple. I wonder what happened to my sire. Maybe there’s a changeling parent out there somewhere who misses me, or regrets leaving me on the doorstep of a temple. Or maybe they don’t think of me at all. I wonder how Damon is doing. Maybe I should message him in the morning and tell him we’re leaving the Isles. I hope he is alright.

Sa’kull drools a lot. Did I drool a lot as a toddler? I don’t remember.

I’ll ask Mother as soon as we rescue her.