GGE 13.2 \\\ The Beginning of the End

Miniature mountains and rivers made of wood were laid out before Alistair; his silver eyes criticizing each inch of the land depicted below. Carved from a single branch of the now-dead World Tree, the table spanned nearly thirty-feet long and almost ten wide. That was not to say that had been the entire branch itself. No, it was only one-thirtieth of the branch Alistair had pulled with them during their defeat at the Highland Cliffs five-hundred years ago.

The rest had gone to framing his castle within the Capital, in which he was in now. Even then, there had been enough odd pieces to be used for little things. Such as candle holders that could not be burnt by normal fire. Hilts for swords and even several shields had been made from the cuttings. Each of national-grade quality. Most stayed in the castle, surrounded by thousands of Paladins and loyal believers.

The World tree, withered and just a black husk that stood half its height on the Highland’s Cliffs, was the home of the old Goddess of Light – Maddin.

While Maddin had not been a troublemaker like Hades had been, she sheltered the High-Elves in her city. And under the combined might of the Four Races, their armies had laid siege to her ill-prepared city within a day. Dwarves, Humans, Beastmen, and even their lowly cousins, Fallen ones – now officially called Elves – assaulted her city. Alistair, a budding youth with one step into Godhood, had led the charge.

It had not been a battle, but more a massacre. One he had come to regret later on in life. He never truly understood that wonderful woman; though he thought her a stupid wench then. Blinded with hate for the High Elves, he was too young to understand the cycles of war and loss. He had been arrogant from his consecutive wins against their oppressors. And on that day, was when his suffering truly began.

His finger traced the grain, hoping that it’d speak to him, but a dead magical tree was still dead. Its soul was long gone, but its magic still there.

Had he been wiser, he would have seen how that Goddess of Light had truly kept the horrors away from them. It wasn’t under he had felled her on the World Tree did he understand. Maddin, The Flower of Love and Light, may have been neutral in all accounts. But she was never still. She had kept the demons and Devils away. She had kept the living on the ground, and the dead in it.

After she had died, the demons came in full force for the First World War. The Four Races against the monsters of the north. Serfs and lowly-nobles speak of this war as if it were a win. It had not. Alistair had been humbled in this war. A war that had razed the very ground they had walked. The demons would haven’t wiped them all from existence if they had not slithered back to their forsaken lands. No one knew why they had.

Only two things had been discovered, and how the land had gained its name. The Forbidden Forest had been untouched in their rage. The second had been that Maddin was actually Hades’s wife. It had only been discovered when a Devil had brought them a declaration of war, though ironically, marking the start Silent War.

A war that raged violently in Death Valley, unheard by the rest of the world. Where the Theocracy clashed with the demons daily.

Alistair leaned forward, his calloused hands circled with golden rings picked up a black piece of metal-tipped with a skull on top. He moved it across the carved map and placed it several inches away from a white metal totem tipped with a tower.

“The Demon Army gained forty miles of land in their push,” Alistair reported it as if he were talking about the weather. “I managed to halt their advance, but I could not break through their main forces. Not until I gain more power.”

Yes. The demons had invaded in the night, and Alistair had been nearly powerless against it. A million strong, fortified with Devils and nightmarish beasts. It had been unlike anything before the Silent War had begun. Rather, it was the reason for these dark memories resurfacing. It was an invasion, and that was not the end of his woes.

When he had returned to Angel’s Respite, where their most elite fighters stood guard on a mile-long wall with bases all along its rear, he’d been greeted with news of the Haven’s invading their largest port city. It had taken Alistair nearly an hour to reach it via magical leaps. And when he had gotten there, nothing but black walls and streets greeted him. The entire city had been burned. The attack had come while he had been busy in the north. Alistair removed a large hexagon coin, etched and inlaid with a golden ship next.

“Port Arthur no longer exists,” Alistair reported as well. “Akyryss had not occupied the city. She instead burned it all. Men, women, and children; none were spared.”

The coin was dropped into a small red-wood tray, padded with blue velvet. Alistair’s silver eyes flicked up to the three people who sat dumbfounded by what their god had informed them off. They had gone to sleep in the most peaceful era known to the country. The next morning, they had woken up to total war at their distant gates. Only Alistair’s general reacted quickly.

“I will rally all the arms within the country,” General Caelian Green said weakly. “I will have them assemble here in the capital before we march up the highway.”

If this were a normal meeting, and he’d been the one reporting it. He would have been pounding on the table and berating his subordinates for their slow work. However, he would never dare even touch the table, even when exceptionally beautiful maids had brought him a crystal goblet of fine wine. He was a large man in stature. Broad-shouldered, thickheaded, and a head full of thick brown hair.

he looked out of place in a green velvet tunic. The fabric screamed to be relieved of their burden of containing his muscles. Alistair noted he was not a bureaucratic through and through.

“We cannot do this, Lord Green,” Pope Marie, with relaxed refinement, answered. “We cannot leave the lands undefended. If you remember, you had advocated for the army to take all duties related to defending the state and church. And we had approved of this policy some four years ago.”

Pope Marie was not as young as the General, but she was not old. At thirty-five years old, she was like fine wine. She had aged wonderfully. Even Alistair had to admit he found her rather attractive. She had neither a bountiful chest nor an exceptionally seductive body. She had an above-average appearance overall, but the way she wore it was enough to make Alistair notice.

She was a kind woman. Smart and honest, she practiced what she preached and never broken a promise that she could keep. She was the ideal woman, and sadly, already married. But that hadn’t been the deciding force for promoting her to his Pope. It had been her loyalty to the church and her beliefs that made her a great pick. It also helped that he didn’t have to look at an old man counting the coins in front of him.

“Lady Marie, the demons are invading again,” General Caelian said respectfully.  “We must do something before the demons get to Angel’s Respite. Lone demons have already managed to slither into our lands from somewhere. Lahabiel is also rising havoc to the east. Not to mention Akyryss is now declaring war on us by burning our most important port.”

“I do believe that may have something more to do with our lovely deity here,” Pope Marie turned to Alistair. Eyes full of reproach.

“I did nothing wrong,” Alistair gave her a small smile and leaned back into his chair.

No one in the room was in the dark about what Alistair had done. They knew what he had done, and so did the Great White Dragon.

“That…” General Caelin looked conflicted for a moment. “Still. She could have spoken with us about it before burning out countrymen.”

“She had,” The third person spoke up. Minister of Foreign affairs. “She had sent plenty of protests. Five in the last month. Close to two hundred in the last year. She is quite the vocal one.”

“Just when I was taking she was becoming a pacifist,” Alistair jested as he stared down over the ornate dragon head on the island beside their country. “It’s easy to forget that a dragon is still an apex predator when they’re laying low.”

“Do you think she did it in liege with the demons?” The Minister of Foreign Affairs asked as he looked to his god. “Her attack happened just as you left for the valley.”

“Maybe,” Alistair. “Or maybe she finally decided to no longer tolerate us.” 

“Did we lose just the port?” The Minister asked solemnly. “Piers can be repaired but–“

“The entire city had been burned,” Alistair gave him a demeaning look for the idiotic question. “They also burned the surrounding lands and hamlets. No living being exists within twenty miles of the city.” 

 There was a rap at the door, and Alistair opened it with a quick magical wave of his wrist. In came a woman, her face hidden behind a white fox mask. Complimenting it, she wore tight black clothing with several swords on her back. Her steps were light as she walked behind Alistair, bowed, and slipped him an ornate wooden board. Parchment had been attached to it, nearly full of tightly packed neat handwriting. 

Alistair threw an eye over his shoulder, examining the woman. She was slender, small, and had lovely legs that were displayed nicely by her tight pants. She was a ninja, modeled after the High Elven saboteurs before. She bowed at him, her expression hidden behind the magical mask. Before she could leave, Alistar weaved her forward. She moved forward and knelt beside him.

“What is this?” Alistair asked with a teasing smile. 

“Another report from Bishop Luis from Port Gulley, within the Dragon Empire,” A muffled sweet voice came from behind the mask. “Behind it, is a reported sighting of the Tarrasque within the southern desert.”

Alistair had only meant to tease his little ninja. No one present was oblivious that their deity was quite fond of this little spy. Quite so that she never really had been sent on a mission in the last two years, and mainly acted as his secretary. Of course, it was a mutual feeling. However, Alistair’s teasing had been derailed by what she said. He sighed, no longer feeling he wanted to deal with matters of state and the world.

“Come, sit.” Alistair kicked his chair back enough to allow room on his lap for the girl.

“Alistair?” The girl murmured. 

“Sit,” The deity said. “It’s going to be a long day, and I require your company. Otherwise, the next bad report that comes in, I’ll throw them from the roof like the last pope.”

The girl turned to look at the three sitting on the other side of the table. No one besides her had the luxury to address Alistair by name to his face. No one also had the luxury to even touch him, but her. In turn, no one besides Alistair had seen her face. At least, no one knew who was under the mask. Alistair had been careful to bring in lots of girls of her statue for the express purpose of hiding her amount them should she wish to take it off. 

“Please,” General Caelian bowed his head respectfully to her, even though he was technically leagues above her. “Join us.” 

The other two nodded their heads, though, the Minister of Foreign Affairs held a perverted gleam in his eyes towards the girl. Alistair shot him a warning glance, and he turned down to the table. He coughed and began to reorganize the parchments and figures on the table before him.  The girl silently slid onto the god’s lap and cuddled up against him in a shy manner. 

The room seemed to brighten slightly as Alistair felt himself relaxing in the girl’s presence. 

“Back to the subject,” General Caelian coughed. ” I still believe we should send out a call to arms. However, we can leave the minimum hands needed to keep the peace. But what shall we do about Haven?” 

“I suggest we do nothing,” The Minister started as he sat and reached across the table with a pointing stick. It landed on Haven. “I believe we should leave it be. Akyryss razed twenty miles of land, but never went beyond. Upon further thought, I believe it was just retaliation.”

“Retaliation or not,” General Caelian kneaded his fingers as he rested his arms on the table. “We cannot leave this insult unanswered.” 

“And is that not what Akyryss did in regards to what we’ve done?” Pope Marie said, giving the General a reproachful glance. “We know from old records that Akyryss is connected to this Cyril deity, and that these statues are important to her.” 

“She has strictly demanded the statues be removed and sent to her,” The Minister added. “We lack the ability to do so. But Akyryss can remove them at will, so what is stopping her from coming and getting them?”

“Because such idols should be destroyed,” General Caelian snapped. “Our Lord here is the only idol that exists. The others are just false gods.” 

“Enough,” Alistair said. “Leave the statues alone for now, and let the White One know that if she wishes to move the statues to her island, she is allowed to do so. In regards to the matter of arms, draft serfs who are not essential to running the country. The idle, of common or noble birth, will fight.” 

“As you say, your Worship,” The General and Minister agreed together. 

“As for matters of the Church,” Alistair turned to Pope Marie. “Take the Holy Knights into the Highlands. It is time we expand the faith eastward.” 

“The Beast Kings will not like that,” Pope Marie’s eyebrows rose with interest as she clasped her hands in her lap. “And that will mean we’ll have to put a hold on converting the southern lands.” 

“The desert does not hold many souls,” Alistair waved his left hand as he wrapped his right around the ninja. “They believe in Cyril strongly. They will take much more than the beastmen to convert, I believe. We also have to combat Lahabiel before he grows too strong.” 

“Does that mean you’re…?” Pope Marie couldn’t push out the last few words. It was insane to even try.

“Yes,” Alistair nodded. “It’s time to invade the eastern lands. Spread word of the undead amongst the tribes of the highland, and the Empire. It will make it easier to convert them when they’re scared.

If it had been any other person, Pope Marie could have flat out rejected this proposal. This was violating every uneasy treaty they had struck in the land. Should they fail, they could be swallowed. If they succeed… They would no longer have to worry about their neighbors. A unified mortal front against the unholy forces. 

“It will be as you command,” Pope Marie nodded her head. 

“You’re all dismissed.” Alistair waved his free hand, but his right hand squeezed the ninja’s waist. She knew he wanted her to stay with that. 

The group shuffled out, and the last one closed the thick wooden door behind them. All alone now, and in the highest tower in the castle, Alistair feared no prying eyes. He let out a long tired sigh as his body slumped back, pressing the soft womanly body against his. 

“You’ve worked hard,” The ninja said softly as she laid her head on his shoulder. 

“I have,” Alistair said. “After four hundred years, it feels like the world is going mad again.” 

“I believe you will fix it all, my love, ” The girl muttered.

Her white fox mask was pulled away by Alistair with slow delicate movements; as if he’d break her. Beneath it, was a small slightly tanned face. Beautiful, trusting, emerald eyes looked up at him. They shimmered like gems in the sunlight that poured through the glass windows around them. But they were as soft as water to Alistair. 

“You believe I can fix anything,” Alistair chuckled softly. 

“You are a god, and the man I love,” She smiled softly. 

Her soft pale lips invited a kiss that came with the same delicate manner he pulled her mask off. 

“It is not that easy,” Alistair said. “Magic and faith can only fix so much.” 

“I’ve never said it was easy,” The girl rolled her eyes with a faint pink tint to her cheeks now. “But you’ve just like before, you’ll find a way.” 

“It’s different from two hundred years ago,” Alistair sighed. “We just had to kill the right people.”

“And two hundred years ago, we did just that.” The girl said as she pulled her black hood back, revealing deep scarlet hair that burned when the sunlight touched it. 

Alistair smiled. This girl was not a child, but over two hundred years old. And she was his Angel of Death. She killed his enemies in the dark when he could not do so publicly. she was the only one who he could depend on without a second thought. Without her, he would have been lost. She had only appeared two years ago, as this identity. She had lived many lives over two-hundred years. A pope. A baker, a shop-girl, and much, much more. All in the name of her lover, Alistair. She was the only Angel of his. 

“So what does the report say about Cyril?” Alistair said as he kissed her forehead. 

“That she has real dove-like wings and she wields fire like she breathes,” The girl sighed as she took the reports into her hands. “And she seems to be inflicted with the Corruption that Hades has been spreading over the northern lands.” 

“That does present a problem,” Alistair looked down at her, more interested in her than the reports. “And the Tarrasque?”

“Our spies only report offhand accounts from the nomads who come to trade form the wastes.” She grabbed the pointer that rested in its enclave in front of Alistair. She tapped its tip on the deepest part of the desert. “Around here. The reports are becoming more credible as each account seems to match. Large beast. Bigmouth with thousands of teeth. Back armed with blue spikes. Tan lizard-like skin. It didn’t exactly chase humans, but each reported it from a distance. Estimated to be over a hundred stories tall if the beastaries are correct.”

“That would pose a problem if it were to venture north,” Alistair said as he gently pulled the report and pointer from her hands.

He set them aside before placing her on the edge of the war table. He slowly began to undress her, each inch of moved black fabric revealed scarred white skin. Neither minded it though as he kissed at each scar as if greeting old lovers. 

“It’s indecent to do this here,” The girl gasped as his lips touched her chest. “We have a bedroom for this,”

“My castle, I will take you where I please,” Alistair said as he slid her out of her top, revealing two perky small breasts. Though he loved large-chested women, he loved everything about this girl, small tits and all. 

“Even in front of your council?” The girl said pointedly. 

“Never,” Alistair’s head rose and lock his glowing eyes with hers. “I would never show you to them. You are too beautiful for their lowly eyes.” 

Each word was serious and true. Her naked chest was riddled with scars, from many battles she had fought in the darkest corners of this world. Each scar was a story and a pain in his heart. Even those soft breasts he groped had not been spared. But he loved every scar as he loved her body when it had been pristine. 

“You flatter too much,” She turned away blushing.

“Nylah,” He spoke her name. “You are my moon. My ever beautiful moon that I cherish.” 

Amongst the room decorated with skulls of long-extinct monsters, preserved maps of important battles and tokens gifted from now-gone friends; sweet moaning danced through the room, as two immortals forgot their woes for a moment to embrace each other. 

 

— † —

 

Deep primal roars that had shaken the castle since dawn broke, illuminated the frosted Night Castle in a dull grey light, had ceased for more than an hour. The old Devils, converted High Elves who’d managed to make it to the Evil God Hades, stood at attention in two long lines of twenty. All of them awaited their leader, the only being who could survive Hades’s rage. The large door creaked; inky long spiked fingers curled around its edge. Then a long blackleg and then a stretched figure slid out.

The figure moved with lulling grace that told them time did not matter to the monster. Deep crimson eyes appeared as the Devil, almost fifteen feet tall, stood outside the door as it closes it. Its entire body, smoky black, and void of any defining features aside from its elongated body and limbs and red eyes, looked over the two lines of Devils. 

“A human has been spotted in the Garden,” The black monster said with slow deliberate words. “He has ordered we exterminate the Four races once and for all. We, the Twenty Night Nobles, will do his bidding.” 

The devils looked at each other with mixed emotions. A human had gotten past all their demons, and now they’ve been given permission to march upon the insects. The bad and good news did seem to fly hand in hand. 

“Nobles of the West,” The monster spoke again. “Lead your forces down the valley. Take half the eastern Nobles with you.”

“Lord Hu!” One of the devils spoke up.

He stepped out of line. He was a hawk-faced demon with a massive broad body. He wore elegantly crafted black mail armor that was brushed with human blood to form a tree. He was of the Eastern faction.

“Why only half?” He asked with pointed concern that seemed to scream Were we not good enough? 

Cao Hu wanted to snort then, but these devils had slowly begun to act like the demons they lorded over. The High Elves had been a highly proud and cultured race. A few enclaves of the race still existed, hidden far away from civilization. Most of them, Cao Hu knew of. At least, he assumed it was most of them. Very few survivors had survived out of Edward and Lahabiel’s protection. Only those with the will and stubbornness to continue their traditions did so. 

Cao Hu had only wished these devils had been those people. They lacked any of the decorum they once had. Instead, they had mutated their once beautiful forms into grotesque beings. Like orcs crossed with trolls then spliced with various animals afterward. One of the devils, the closest on his left, even had a nose like an elephant. It hung down around the top of his chest. And sadly, he was on the nicer side of looks. 

“The nobles not deployed to the valley will split,” Cao Hu said as his featureless black face turned to the asker. “One half will take the mountain passes, and the other half will protect the southern entrance into the Forbidden Forest.” 

“But we will not earn valor there!” One of the Eastern nobles cried out. The others nodded.

“Of course you will,” Cao Hu let out a viciously deep growl that silenced the dissent. “You will protect the lands of your God’s spawn. No human shall pass into the forest any longer. We have allowed small entries to go unanswered, but that idiot dragon has been felled by someone. We cannot leave it up to those animals any longer.”

One Devil stepped forward but held his tongue. Cao Hu nodded to him, feeling the question on the tip of the devil’s tongue.

“And how will this earn valor for us?” The devil, a bull-like monster with a massively plump body like a fattened pig.  

“You will protect something very dear to your god,” Cao Hu said, but the devil didn’t look convinced. Cao Hu had to remember that, along with their slow descent into madness, so did their ability to remember anything beyond their deep-seated hatred. “The Forbidden Forest is Lady Cyril’s land.” 

All the devils went into a heated frenzy at the mention of their creator. That was also one thing they never forgot. Their love for the creator they had never met. Edward’s daughter, and his god-daughter. It astounded him how quickly they forget things, yet they always seemed to remember a girl they never met. For a moment, they looked to have regained some sort of sanity as they sent praises towards Cyril. They smiled and balked happily, offering to take place as the last paradise’s protectors. 

Then the hatred slipped back in. Reminded of the wrongs, they began to roar. They no longer vied to be the Forbidden Forest’s protectors, but it’s avengers. They wanted to raze every land near it as retribution for stepping through the forest. trespassing in the Garden of Eden had been all but forgotten now. 

“Enough!” Cao Hu bellowed. “Select the one strongest of you, they will protect the pass. All the others will comb the forest for intruders, and get rid of the protectors. They’ve forgotten their purpose and allowed the Starry Lake to be trespassed upon. If Cyril’s body is no longer there, poison the lake. It’s already been sullied.”

Cao Hu didn’t want to destroy Cyril’s paradise. It was built by her hands alone, and yet, her father wanted it torn down now that humans had been in it. But he was not the head of these devils. Only their manager. He cursed the humans that went to Fable’s End. All these years, he had been working to bring his old friend back. It all laid in ruins now, and the madness was set in. They were on a one-way road to destruction. 

Who’s? He didn’t know…

“Go,” Cao Hu ordered. “For the Motherland!”

“For the Motherland!” They all bellowed and stormed from the hall with murder in their hearts; glee in their eyes. 

Yes, for the Motherland. The lands they lost. For their dead friends. For Madin. For Cyril. Cao Hu looked up. A glass down framed with twisted iron hung over him. Grey snow clouds painted the sky. He wanted winter to be over and to bask in the snow so he didn’t feel so alone anymore… He hated winter.

 

— † —

Akyryss swung several feet off the ground in a makeshift hammock. Fashioned from all twenty-six silk curtains in her bedchambers, she swung back and forth slightly in her human form. She didn’t feel herself this morning. She watched the sunrise over eastern lands, backlighting to the massive cloud of smoke that rose far across the small stretch of ocean. 

As the sunlight slowly crawled down from the roof, illuminating the world in its warmth. With it, it chased the darkness away, and the intense emotions that had swirled in her heart. Emotions that were not hers, but of the one she loved. She hadn’t thought of it then when the power flowed through her with those words. 

She assembled her servants and assaulted the most important port in the Theocracy’s possession. It was the port connecting it to the desert cities and the elven lands. She had burned that infernal city to the ground, but not before looting it dry. She felt no mercy when she burned the insects to charred bits. 

But the power had faded and with it, it brought another problem. Despair and sadness. It had been overwhelming as it swirled in her head. She turned back, feeling it had all been for naught. Her dragons celebrated the raid and praised her to the burned heavens. 

Tears rolled down her painfully beautiful face as her eyes watched the sunrise. She curled her knees to her chest, and just let herself be pushed by the coastal winds. Behind her, several different maids mulled about with concern.

“She’s crying!” One elf maid to a catgirl. “She’s never cried before!” 

No one knew what to do, and most of them had been struck stupid from her sniffling. Her heart was breaking. Her love was hurting, and she couldn’t fly to her right now. Not without jeopardizing her land. It was a conflict she could not reconcile. Would Cyril want her to come to her? Or would she want her to defend the island? This was supposed to be their paradise, but it was all bust now. 

The Theocracy would mobile against the island soon. She had no plans against it. In fact, Sicuro had just scolded her for her rashness. They were ill-prepared for what she had done. She had completely cut all ties with the closest country without preparing their stores. Sicuro had left her alone when she bawled like a child in her hammock. Even that man did not know how to deal with a crying holy dragon. 

The door squeaked open behind her, and a familiar tapping of leather boots filled the large rocky chamber. Soon, Sicuro’s concerned face popped over the hammock’s right corner.

“I brought your favorite food…” He said with a weary smile. 

A moment later, the smell of sweet maple barbeque sauce filled her bedchamber. The squeaking of the rolling tray accompanied it. It grew closer and stopped. Sicuro disappeared and reappeared a moment later, holding a metal tray with an entire rack of glazed ribs. Steam still wisped off its perfectly cooked meat. 

“Pork ribs,” He smiled. “Freshly harvested before grilled. Lathered with your favorite sauce.” 

Akyryss could be a child sometimes, and more often than not, he had to coax her with food. When she was mad, sweet drinks could lul her into a more gentle state. When she was down, she would devour sweet ribs. When she was frustrated, chocolate from the tropical regions of the island. But this…? He didn’t know. He hoped he could lul her out of her bedchambers with it.

The entire palace was worried about their dragon ruler. She had walked through the entire teary-eyed. This had never happened before, but they all saw it. And like when she wanted to be alone, she stole all the curtains in her chambers and fashioned a hammock before the maids could pull out her real hammock. But no one believed she should be alone right now. Not when they didn’t know why this was happening. 

Akyryss glanced at the ribs for a moment, then shook her head without a word. She continued to sniffle in her makeshift hammock. Sicuro was lost then. What could he do? The island needed its ruler now more than ever. He had already made the necessary decisions, but no one would follow him for long. Word was already spreading of what state the White One was in. If this continued, the island would tear itself apart. 

This mythical being was the only thing that held them all together. 

“Akyryss,” Sicuro said without any honorifics to provoke a reaction. 

Nothing.

“You have to do something,” Sicuro said softer. “At least tell us what is wrong…”

She looked up at him, with… Pleading eyes. He was starstruck by just how perfect she looked, and how dangerous this was. This was not the Akyryss he knew. She had never looked at him with that look. And he had to snap her out of this. 

“Please tell us what we can do to help you,” Sicuro said. “Please. The island cannot live without you. We are all waiting for you.” 

“What do you do when the person you love is hurting?” Akyryss whispered loud enough for only Sicuro to hear.  

The man didn’t know how to answer that. 

“May I refer this question to someone with this experience…?” It took effort for Sicuro not to sigh.

This was just too much for him. A broken heart, really? The island had ground to a standstill because its ruler had a broken heart? The dragon looked at him, mulling it over before nodding. 

“Chalia,” Sicuro leaned back and beckoned for the elf maid. “I require your assistance.” 

The elf nearly sprinted across the large chamber before stopping beside Sicuro. Her bright blonde hair shimmered in the sunlight, and her deep ocean eyes were two pools of worry. Her maid dress was smoothed out as she stood at attention. 

“Our Lady Dragon here would like some advice.” He said and bowed out. “I’ll let you two ladies speak alone. Come now, everyone. Leave the room and go about your duties. Excuse me, I’ll be in the throne room if you require me.” 

The maids wanted to stay, but Sicuro wanted Akyryss to have some privacy for once. So he shepherded the maids out. Chalia waited until the room had been emptied, and the chamber doors slammed shut. When they had been left alone, she turned back to her idol before her. 

“How may I help, Your Grace?” The elf asked.

“How do you help the one you love, when you cannot be by their side?” Akyryss asked with the same pleading look. 

“Er… I mean..” Chalia was caught off guard by that, and the look. “Why can’t you be with them? You are the Great White Dragon and if you cannot go, is there truly anything anyone could do?”

“I…” She looked past the maid, and out the bay doors. “I was rash this morning. I attacked the Theocracy.” 

“We all know,” The maid smiled. “We are all proud of you. You finally stood up to that false god.” 

“But now I cannot leave this island, “Akyryss looked back. “Or I’ll lose you all.” 

“Is this person worth more than all of us?” The maid asked seriously. 

“That’s the wrong question,” Akyryss shook her head.

“How so?” The maid asked. “We are but mortals who will eventually die. If you love this person, you should be with them. You are immortal, and our lives must be like another day in your eyes.” 

“I lorded over this island because I wanted to make a paradise free of her bad memories,” Akyryss said. “You are all here to complete her paradise.”

“Is this your mistress you speak of?” The maid asked, catching on to what was going on.

“Yes,” Akyryss nodded. “I felt it, earlier. I felt her power course through me, but afterward, her sorrow. I don’t know what happened on the other end of the continent.” 

“Why don’t you send a small contingent of soldiers to her?” The maid asked. 

Akyryss head tilted slightly as if she didn’t understand. But slowly, her eyes grew wider as the spark ignited in them. She smiled slowly and climbed out of her hammock. Chalia smiled as well because there was a gleam of mischief in her eyes. The dragon was back, and she only needed the right push.

The duo burst out of the chambers, startling the waiting guards and maids. The maids were quick to fall in line, leaving the guards wondering what was going to happen. A turn here, and a turn there. Akyryss found the door that led into the throne room. It was open wide and she walked in as Sicuro was talking with the head of the Merchant Guild. Both of them bowed to her as she stormed in, still puffy-eyed. 

“Your grace!” The guild leader greeted before backing away from Sicuro when he saw her locked eyes.

“Your grace?” Sicuro felt a chill run down his spine as she walked. 

He was happy that she had returned to normal, whatever that was. He, however, was more scared of that gleam in her eye. A plan had been hatched, and like most of them, were probably badly thought out. She stopped in front of him, and her smile grew into a scary grin that made him gulp. 

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