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gabz2000

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gabz2000 last won the day on June 18 2020

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  1. Chapter 116 – Crisis As the surge of power that flooded me as I ascended into 4th ascension started to dissipate, I continued to feel unnerved by the potential this newfound power within me. I took a deep breath and looked around, the Planes of Ascension is as beautiful as ever, the grass a kaleidoscope of colors I could not even begin to describe, the forest not far from where I was stood tall and majestic. The sweet melody of the wind and of the stars and the hum of the energy of the flow calmed my nerves. It never ceased to amaze me how such a beautiful place could exist. I took a moment to walk around and discover more about this dimension, but my memory fails me as I try to grasp and create a mental map of the place. It’s as if the place is ever changing and does not have a permanent form. I gave up on my attempt to map the place out, I just took the beauty and serenity of the dimension. While strolled along the lush greenery, I recalled how an unknown entity helped me with my ascension. I owe great thanks to whomever this being is. I am not sure I would have figured out the 4th key on my own. I expanded my aura to search for this unknown higher being, but my powers could only sense that I was alone. I sighed in disappointment, but I knew the day will come that I will be able to give my thanks to my patron amongst the higher beings. I tried calling upon the emissaries of the flow, hoping I’d receive some guidance but there was no response. The flow of time in the Planes of Ascension is hard to describe, one could spend an hour here but you’ll never know how long it has truly passed until you return to wherever you came from. It was almost sunrise when I returned to Greensburg. I was not tired, contrary to that, I felt energized, but I knew I had to rest for a long day ahead. I had a restful and dreamless sleep and it was the soft knocking of Etalos that nudged me from my slumber. “Yes?” I asked with a yawn. “Chris, it’s lunch time,” Etalos replied. “I’ll be right down,” I replied as I stretched my body and prepared for the day. Everyone has already started to eat when I entered the dining room. “Mornin’, sleepy head,” Dad teased. “I had a long night,” I tersely replied. “Had that meeting with the VHC and WCC last night eh?” Dad asked. “Yeah…” I replied as I took my seat. Then with a satisfied, borderline smug look on my face, I added, “I ascended again.” Silence. “Say what now?” Dad nearly choked as it dawned on him that I wasn’t kidding. “Chris, are you serious?” Etalos added. “Yes,” I smiled at them. “And you decided to say it to us, just now?” Etalos squeaked in surprise. Kalron and Nomir sat silent as they processed the news. “How?” Dad further inquired. “It’s a long story…” I replied. Then for the next 15 minutes or so, I recounted the events that led to my ascension. “Goodness, this is just amazing,” Kalron whispered in shock. “I can’t believe it myself,” I added. “How do you feel?” Dad asked. “When I unlocked the next key, I felt a surge of power rush through my body, but I feel normal now, I’m a bit jumpy and tingly but nothing else.” “Do you think you should get tested again?” Nomir suggested. “I think you’re right,” I replied as I cupped my chin and mulled things over. I definitely needed to be tested and scanned again. I didn’t like the prospect of being stuck in that glass tube but I knew it had to be done. The Master Mage and Sarad will surely have some use for the data they will uncover. “I’ll go for a scan later. Etalos can you make the necessary arrangements with the High Mage and Master Healer?” “Yes, of course. Consider it done.” -- Early afternoon, I joined Kalron in his office to monitor the events in Libya, Yemen, and India. Several monitors showed news coverage of the civil war in Libya and Yemen. Bits of news about the Blood Pox came as well. Aside from the typical information you’d expect from the news channels, reports from Yal and Kalron’s agents trickled through the secured elvish communications network. “This doesn’t look good,” I thought out loud as I processed the information in front of us. “You can say that again,” Kalron said with an exasperated sigh. He then added, “The situation is deteriorating by the minute and there isn’t much we could do right now. There’s so much we don’t know it would be unwise to make a move at this point.” “I agree, but it can’t be helped that we’re all getting frustrated with all of this.” I retorted. “Turkish and Egyptian troops have engaged each other in Libya, it’s an undeclared war at this point.” Kalron said as we continued to watch the news. “They are both fighting for influence in Libya, they have both funded opposing forces in the civil war. War between Saudi Arabia and Iran isn’t far off as well, the Saudi’s have continued to funnel troops across the border into Yemen and the Iranians aren’t happy about it.” “All we know is that the demons instigated this but we don’t exactly know how. We have to dig further, we’ve sent drones into the area and have hacked into the communication servers of the countries involved. We have also intensified the focus of the magic and aura scanners, we should have more detailed results in a few hours.” Kalron added. “This is such a different approach compared to the first two demons, it’s as if whoever is behind this is making the humans do most of the damage.” I said while thinking of the things that have happened so far. “Exactly, same thoughts.” Kalron agreed. “How is the situation with the new virus, Blood Pox?” I asked. “It’s still mainly concentrated in India. The WHO investigation has push India to publish statistics. An hour ago they announced 12,000 cases so far, mostly centered in Chennai and the State of Tamil Nadu. Yesterday, the first case outside of India was recorded in Dubai but now it appears it has spread to Europe and Southeast Asia, cases in London, Amsterdam, and Bangkok have now been recorded.” Kalron explained, his face was grim and somber. It was clear Kalron was deeply troubled with how things could continue to worsen, we are in the early stages of this new challenge after all. While Kalron continued to monitor the situation. I went back to my study to learn new magic spells. I spent an hour honing new techniques and skills. At this point, I could use any additional improvement in my abilities. I just finished studying several new spells when Etalos informed me that I had a video call from Canada’s Triton Command. “It’s Sarah Marois, from the Triton Command. I believe the Canadian Prime Minister has already made a decision regarding the alliance,” Etalos said. “Please patch her through,” I replied. “Good afternoon, Your Highness,” Sarah greeted as the video feed connected. “Good afternoon, as well. I believe you have some good news?” I asked with a smile. “Definitely, I am to inform you, that an hour ago our Prime Minister has approved Canada’s entry into the alliance with the WCC, VHC, and the Elvish Realm,” she proudly replied. Then she added, “Together with Stephen Dane, my co-chair of Triton Command, we will be the key liaison officers to the alliance.” “This is wonderful news. Have the VHC and WCC been informed as well?” “Not yet, after this call, I will reach out to Councilors Luigi Bonafede and Juan Montero of the Crescent Council, then I will inform Councilor Reza Hatami of the Vampire High Council.” “I am happy that your government has decided to join us,” I said. “I look forward to working with you, your highness, we are in the middle of difficult times but with the alliance, I am sure we will overcome this.” “I hope that is the case,” I tersely replied. I paused then added, “Most likely, from here onwards, we’ll be seeing you and Mr. Dane in our meetings.” “We are very much excited to be a part of this coalition.” After my call with Sarah, I decided to send a text message to Victor and August informing them of Canada’s entry into alliance. As expected, both of them were happy that the Canadians have joined us. This will certainly make working with the humans easier. Now we were just waiting for the Europeans and the Americans to decide. I also hope that our friends in the VHC and WCC are making headway in reaching out to other countries. From what I’ve discussed with Luca, Victor’s sire that VHC Councilor Simon Porter of Australia is already in talks with his contacts in the Australian Government while Councilors Liu Sen and Toshimitsu Mori are dealing with their Chinese and Japanese counterparts respectively. August has confided in me that Luigi and Juan, the co-leaders of the WCC, have both asked WCC Councilors Gerard Girardin and Marek Kaminski to convince the Europeans to approve the EU’s participation in the alliance as soon as possible. I sighed as the thought of how complicated things are about to get. Dealing with the VHC and WCC has been smoother than expected due to my relationship with Victor, Luca, Reza, Konrad and August but I don’t have anything to work with regarding the countries involved. I guess, this is the part where I’ll have to leverage our relationship with the vampires and werewolves to bring the humans closer to the elves. After a light snack in the afternoon, I checked with Etalos with how things were back in the realm. “News of the new demon threat here on earth has made it back to the public. The King and Queen are both working hard to assure the citizens that the realm is safe.” “And what of the barrier?” I asked. “No leaks of negative energy have been reported,” Etalos replied. “That’s good, we can’t afford to have citizens fall prey to the sickness brought upon by the malignant energy. If it takes hold in the population, it would certainly cause panic.” “Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but the barrier is stronger than ever before. To my understanding, it’s not at any significant strain as of the moment.” Etalos said as he looked over some of his notes. The he added, “I’ve made arrangements for your scan. Don’t forget to go the scanning facility in 3 hours.” “Thank you Etalos. I don’t know what I’ll do without you.” I sincerely said. “You’re welcome Chris, working for you is a pleasure. The pay is not bad too,” he laughed as he said that quip about his generous salary. -- After dinner, I immediately went to the palace for my scan. Uncle Selvenus, The High Mage, and Master Healer were already in the room waiting for me. “I heard you just ascended again,” My uncle proudly said as he hugged me. “I guess, that’s the case.” I shyly replied. “Father and Rehanmir couldn’t join today, they are currently visiting the Royal and Civil Guards.” “It’s okay, I understand. Things are getting worse back on Earth, I can only assume all of you are busy.” “You can say that again,” my uncle chuckled as he patted my back. “We have made several adjustments to the scanner, we have added new crystals in the processor,” Zenfar explained as he pointed at various parts of the glass tube. “Its scanning capability should be double by now. It should give us a more detailed analysis of your aura and energy pool,” Sarad added. “Let’s see how things are now,” Zenfar said as he helped me into the scanner. Inside the glass tube, as Zenfar and Sarad turned on the machine, and I felt the hum and tingle of energy connect with my aura. My uncle looked on as the two experts observed and analyzed the preliminary results. Zenfar and Sarad remained stoic as the data poured in. The scan ended after 20 minutes. I was with my uncle as the two experts exchanged whispers and nods on each other while they interpreted the results. I didn’t know what to expect but somehow I was anxious and nervous. “Don’t worry, it will be alright.” My uncle softly squeezed my shoulders as he assured me when he noticed my worried glances on the machine and the two older elves. Zenfar cleared his throat, and began to explain, “Well… what can I say, I don’t even know where to begin. The scanner barely held on, if you were only a bit stronger Chris, I am sure the machine would have failed.” “Uh… uhm that’s a good thing right?” I asked. “Is anything wrong?” My uncle queried. “No, nothing is wrong,” Sarad assured us. He paused then continued, “Actually, the results are amazing, and unbelievable actually, Chris’ energy readings are off the charts. His energy pool increased by 16.3% compared to his previous scan.” “16.3% doesn’t sound much,” I retorted. “Oh! Your Highness! You forget how high your baseline already is, 10% of your previous baseline is already equivalent to a Platinum, so to put it bluntly you’ve gained more than a Platinum’s worth of energy,” Zenfar explained, the excitement clear in his voice. “That’s simply remarkable,” My uncle said as he softly rubbed my back. He gave me a wink, then added, “I’m proud of you Chris.” “What else did you find out?” I asked. “With the upgrades in the machine, we were also able to analyze your aptitude in the various elements and overall energy spell casting,” Sarad replied. “So…” I asked, waiting for them to further explain the results. “Well, Chris, as you have demonstrated in your sparring sessions, you’re best with energy spells, your capacity for raw energy manipulation is outstanding. I have never seen the likes of it, no one comes close with your ability to control raw energy. Then as expected you are best with Fire and Water based spells followed by Earth. What is even more surprising despite, just learning Air Magic, you’ve already crossed the threshold of low level platinum air mages,” Zenfar explained. “These are the preliminary results, we have tons more data points to sift through, we will send you the detailed report once we get this done,” Sarad said as he scrolled through the all glass tablet he had. “Thank you,” I replied as I breathed a sigh of relief. “See… that wasn’t that bad at all,” my uncle quipped as we walked back to the residential palace. “You’re right uncle, thanks for being there with me. I can be such a nervous wreck sometimes.” “No worries, your father has indeed mentioned that to me. He says you tend to worry too much even before you had all these powers, he once said that even before your soccer games you’d sometimes worry and overthink things and he’d have to snap you out of it,” My uncle said as he smiled at me. “Oh yeah, I do get over my head sometimes. Speaking of which, I miss playing soccer. Do elves play it?” My uncle scratched his chin, paused for a moment, then replied, “A modified version of it, but yeah, Here it’s not called soccer or football. We call it Skadras, I can show you how we play it here one of these days.” “That would be great!” I beamed at my uncle. “I’m not sure, human soccer would be enough for you at this point. You’d totally crush any opponent of yours.” “I’m not sure about that,” I replied. “Uh huh…” My uncle said with an appraising look. -- Back in Greensburg, I checked with Kalron how things have been while I was gone. “Chris, I’m not sure if I have any good news for you,” He grimly stated. “What’s the matter?” “The distortion in the magical fields have expanded, here take a look.” Kalron then zoomed in the areas around Tobruk, Ibb, and Chennai. The distortion in the magical fields have indeed enlarged. “The shapes are irregular,” I noted. “Yeah, it’s not like the circular distortion with Azarahel in Fort Smith. The one in Tobruk is highly irregular, it’s as if it’s hugging the coast. It’s now roughly 20 kilometers long and 8 kilometers in width. The one in Ibb is a slightly distorted triangle while the one in Chennai is like a 6 pointed star. This doesn’t make sense. Magical theory tells us the most stable distortion should be circular.” “Any demon bubble?” I inquired. “No, we haven’t observed those yet.” “What’s the situation on the ground?” “Clashes have increased all over Libya but Tobruk seems to be where most of the casualties are. Multiple militias and factions continue to fight for control but the Turkish and Egyptians are the most powerful in the area. Both countries have deployed their armies, air forces and navies to Libya. Since we noted the distortion; 5,000 have already died and hundreds of thousands have been displaced.” “And the situation in Yemen?” “The Saudis continue to send troops across the border to take control of Yemen. It’s basically a Saudi invasion of Yemen now. What’s intriguing though is that it appears casualties in the well-armed military of Saudi Arabia is 3.3x higher than what our calculations predicted. It appears they’re taking heavier losses than anticipated.” “And the situation in India?” “The virus continues to spread, deaths continue to climb. Blood Pox has spread to other major cities in the country. Several countries have announced travel bans on India too.” I groaned in frustration, then asked “what now?” “The alliance build up continues, the Canadians are expected to send soldiers to our joint training facilities within the day.” “We will need the Europeans should we need to intervene in Libya and Yemen. That is if we are unable to convince the Turkish, Egyptians, and Saudis to pull back.” “But to these countries they are merely fighting fellow humans and not demons,” Kalron replied. “We’ll have to somehow explain to them that they are being manipulated into this,” I retorted as I swept back my hair in exasperation. Then I added, “We’ll need VHC and WCC assistance on that.” Late into the evening, we had a meeting with the VHC, WCC, and the Canadians. We spent 2 hours discussing the situation. The Canadians promised to help in convincing the Europeans to join the alliance. Stephen Dane informed us that Canada, UK, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States are already working behind the scenes to stop any further escalation in Libya and Yemen. With or without the demon threat, the world powers are already working to stop open conflict as they all have shared interest in the security and stability of the region. The situation in India was also heavily discussed. Norfolk Pharma, the vampire-werewolf joint pharmaceutical company already obtained a sample of the virus and has begun research on a cure. We also asked for a sample of the virus, with the advanced technology of the realm, we were sure that we had something to contribute in studying the virus. The meeting was stressful but productive. What kept on bothering me was that no demons have appeared. It’s going to be hard to convince other countries and world leaders that the conflicts and this new virus is much more than just another war and epidemic. -- After the meeting, I went to the realm for a conference with senior elvish government and military officers. Uncle Rehanmir joined me in dealing with several ministers and high ranking members of Akros, Royal Guard and Civil Guard. We were briefed with the realm’s security situation, and the plan of action for a possible large scale intervention back on earth. So far 5,000 elves have crossed the portals and are in the alliance’s joint training facilities. Apparently, we the shortage in protective gems against the negative energy on earth, only 7,000 elvish troops can be deployed on Earth. Revanjo, a general in the Royal Guard expressed his concern that the elves were taking most of the burden of the situation on Earth. “Your Highness, with all due respect, I believe the troops and the public would not take it lightly if the elves do most of the work. We have already spilled enough blood as it is. This battle is not only ours but theirs as well,” Revanjo seriously said. “I understand your concern general. I would like to assure you that as Ambassador, the Vampires, Werewolves, and Humans will equally contribute in this effort. However, I’d like you to understand that they need us, the vampires and werewolves are indeed strong and fast but have limited magical abilities, humans have technology and numbers but are even worse off magic-wise, they need us. Also remember, the threat back on Earth is not solely theirs but ours as well. If Earth falls it is highly likely the barrier will follow,” I said looking the middle aged general in the eye. I looked around the conference room and made it clear to all other senior government and military officers that this fight was ours too and that their support was not only appreciated but rather expected and demanded as well. After the meeting, I was in my uncle’s study as we discussed other matters of the realm. “Where’s Prince Havar in all of this?” I asked. My uncle snorted, then replied, “Weirdly enough, he’s helping us rally the troops. It appears my father’s cousin is more than happy to have elvish troops back on Earth.” “Why do I not like where this going?” I replied with raised eyebrows. “I feel the same. He might be working with us, but I can’t help but assume his intentions are not the same as ours. I can imagine him using this situation to his advantage, either to further peddle elvish supremacy or to advocate greater elvish presence on Earth. We are the guardians of Earth in his eyes after all,” My uncle explained shaking his head in sheer frustration before sipping his tea. I spent 30 minutes discussing military plans with my uncle before I returned home. I was fully drained by the time I got to my bedroom. I had a short video call with Victor who had a busy day as well before falling asleep. -- “Chris! Chris! Wake up!” Kalron said as he barged into my room. The alarm was clear in his voice. Right behind Kalron was Etalos who had a grim look on his face. “What is it?” I asked as I roused. My senses automatically kicked in as I knew they’d never enter my room just like that if it wasn’t an emergency. “Demons?” I asked further. “It’s bad Chris,” Kalron replied as he pulled out his tablet and showed it to me. “Several minutes ago Turkey and Egypt launched airstrikes in Libya and we’re expecting thousands to be dead. Iran has also blockaded the Persian Gulf in retaliation for Saudi Arabia’s continued intervention in Yemen. The price of oil has already risen to $92 a barrel from $67. Governments are panicking and the markets are expected to crash by opening bell.” “Shit. What do we do now?” I asked as I rubbed my forehead. “That’s not all…” Kalron added. “What else?” I asked. “Here…” Kalron said as he switched the screen to a map showing that the demon distortion has not only enlarged but worsened in gravity as well. It appears the density of demonic energy in Tobruk, Ibb, and Chennai have doubled overnight. “Has a demon bubble been observed?” I asked. “No, but we’ve intercepted intel from troops on the ground that the air has shifted in these areas. They are having a hard time describing it but it appears the air is heavier. That’s not all, commanders from the various forces on the ground have noted that the troops under their command have become more mentally unstable in the past few hours.” “Huh? Mentally unstable? What do you mean?” I inquired as I continued to scroll on the tablet. “The details are a bit vague but from the communications we’ve tapped it appears that dozens of soldiers have become more violent and reluctant to follow orders. We can also assume that this is also affecting the rebels and civilians on the ground,” Kalron replied. “Any progress with the Europeans?” I asked Etalos. “We’re expecting news within a few hours. It’s highly likely they’ll join the alliance,” Etalos replied as he checked his phone for updates from his contacts. The mood in the room what that of frustration, panic, and gloom. “Have the others been notified of this?” I asked Kalron. “I’ve sent a copy of the information we have to my contacts in the WCC, VHC, and Canada,” Kalron tersely replied. “This is not good at all. The general behind this working so differently from that of Yonthar and Azarahel.” I added. “Chris, we’ve also uncovered something,” Kalron added. “Yes?” “Remember how the migrant crossings from North Africa to Europe have been down by 40% in the past few weeks? Refugee crossings from Yemen to Somalia have been down by 55% as well,” Kalron intoned. “I do, isn’t that because sea crossings are more dangerous during winter?” “Yes, that’s usually the case but we’ve received reports that human traffickers and entire batches of would be migrant have been kidnapped.” “How could we miss this? I mean… how could the world not notice this?” “Chris, the decline in sea crossings have been seen as good news by wealthier nations, they never bothered to look further as to why but now we have reason to assume that thousands if not tens of thousands have already been kidnapped by demons.” “And demons need humans to create more demons…” I muttered while in deep thought. “The situation is worse than we thought, we have to act quickly. I’ll call an emergency meeting of the Alliance.” Within 45 minutes, I was on screen with 4 Councilors from the VHC and 6 from WCC, and 2 representatives from Canada. Uncle Selvenus, Kalron, and Etalos joined me to represent the elves. We discussed the further deterioration of the situation and exchanged information. It was decided that more diplomatic pressure will be put on both Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to pull back from their interventions in Libya and Yemen respectively. We also settled to have a more aggressive approach towards controlling the rising epidemic from India. The alliance agreed to donate $250 million dollars to the WHO to handle research and curtailing the spread of Blood Pox. We also decided to offer the Indian government $150 million in exchange for more transparency and access to more details regarding the true extent of the situation in Chennai. The emergency meeting of the alliance lasted for 2 and half hours and all I could say that it was truly a marathon of information exchange and deliberation. This new demon threat has certainly put everyone on edge as the threat is still working behind the scenes. It’s as if we’re grasping at smoke and only putting out fires as they appear. However, it was agreed that we did not have information to send our own troops on the ground. We found it too risky at this point. For all we know the demons could be coordinating all this chaos from thousands of miles away. -- Victor joined me for lunch, he looked stressed and tired and I guess I looked the same. This crisis has certainly taken its toll on us. The mood over lunch was somber and it was clear we all didn’t have any appetite. “I don’t know how people before dealt with demons thousands of years ago, this is testing our limits,” Victor said as he sipped his NuBlood. “From what I understand, in the past, their attacks were far in between. At best they attacked villages and small towns. Sometimes they did attack minor kingdoms and reveled in the ensuing chaos but it appears the rise of modern civilization has given them much larger room to wreak havoc and spread mischief,” I replied as I recalled what gramps told me about his experiences with demons during his time. “So the virus has spread to East Asia too huh?” Victor asked. “Yes, new cases were reported in Tokyo, Taipei, and Hong Kong this morning,” I replied. “That’s not all,” Kalron interjected. “What?” Victor and I asked simultaneously. Kalron showed us his phone and turned on the TV. He then proceeded to show us news that Blood Pox has reached Chicago and Los Angeles, “It’s here.” Kalron grimly replied. -- After lunch, I decided to go to the Tower, hoping that I’d stumble upon spells or information that would help me. At this point, I knew I had to be much stronger. If the worst case scenario of there being 3 active demon generals is true our forces would be spread too thin, any added strength is welcome at this point. I found my way in the 16th level of the tower and expanded my aura in case any particular book or scroll would respond. In the end I found myself with 4 books and 5 scrolls, all of which were written in ancient elvish. I called upon the Book of Songs and tapped into its power. As the sudden spike of magic vanished, I found myself understanding everything that’s written. The books and scrolls contained information and spells on Soul Magic. One particular information I stumbled upon discussed soul resonance. It detailed how a person can connect to other beings using their essence through the flow. It was hard for me to understand but I think I got the gist of it. Basically, anyone that’s powerful enough can manipulate the flow to not only communicate but control anyone or anything that’s connected to the flow. What surprised me the most was when I realized every living thing is connected to the flow. It scared me how one can basically use the flow to impose their wills on others. Then it hit me, this is basically how demon generals are manipulating the demons they’ve sired, the anamis from the infected vampires and werewolves, and the enhanced humans whose souls they’ve removed and replaced with demon taint. The distortion in the magical field is a manifestation of how the flow is being bent and altered by the demon generals. As an idea came to mind, I closed my eyes and reached deep inside me. After a moment, I found the sealed essence of Yonthar and Azarahel and tapped into it. “Look who decided to visit?” Yonthar spoke in my mind. “What can we do for you dear prince?” Azarahel added as she taunted me with her menacing tone. I ignored them and tapped into their souls. “What do you think you are doing?!” Yonthar growled as I continued to invade into their essence. The pushback from both demons was strong and I struggled to remain in control of my thoughts as their auras tried to claim those of mine. “Our energies are incompatible, child!” Azarahel screamed as I felt her essence attempt to break free from the seal deep within me. I decided to pull back and restore the complete seal around the spirits of the two demons generals that dwelled inside me. I was out of breath the moment I opened my eyes again. I felt weak and slightly dizzy but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. As I regained my composure I noticed that my eyes were glowing purple and some streaks of purple covered my right arm. I checked if the seal remained intact. I was relieved when I verified that the demon generals are still secured inside my own pool of energy. I did not get much from my interaction with Yonthar and Azarahel but I’m sure I’ll make further progress soon. I’ll have to be much more careful next time. I can’t afford to lose control and allow the demon taint within me to take over and control my consciousness. After my brief interaction with the demon energy inside me, I decided to study more the text I had with me. Reading the scripts from the olden age of the elven realm was tedious and taxing but I knew I had to push through and learn as much as I can. I couldn’t finish all the books and scrolls in one sitting so I decided to bring them with me back home. -- With books and scrolls in tow, I found myself back in my study. I wasn’t even home for more than 10 minutes when Etalos told me I had a call from Horst Roth of the European Union’s Centurion Force. “Please patch him through,” I said to Etalos as I took my seat in front of the screen. “Good afternoon, Your Highness,” Horst greeted. “I could use some good news Mr. Roth,” I said as I smiled at the handsome German officer. He gave me a playful smirk and then replied, “Good news is far in between these days but yes, I do have some welcome news for you, The EU Commission has approved our membership of the alliance. From here on forward I, together with Ms. Jacqueline Blanquer will be the representatives of the Centurion Force to the alliance.” “I am happy to hear this Mr. Roth,” I replied. I steepled my hands then continued, “I guess we’ll be seeing more of each other then?” “I think that is the case,” He replied. “Have the WCC and VHC been notified?” I asked. “We have sent notice to the WCC and VHC but I will personally reach out to Councilor Reza Hatami and Councilor Luigi Bonafede and Councilor Juan Montero.” “Then I should not take more of your time then, I hope this alliance will work much to the advantage of both our communities Mr. Roth,” I replied with a small smile. “I hope so as well.” After my call with Mr. Roth, I decided to check with Kalron for further developments. My friend looked tired in his office as he coordinated the elvish intelligence effort. He was busy typing away in his laptop when I walked in on him. “Oh Chris…” Kalron startled has he noticed me enter his office. “Don’t mind me, I just wanted to know how things are.” “Not good but not too bad, it appears the threat of economic sanctions have made the Turkish and Egyptians think twice about sending more troops to Libya but we’re still not sure if they’ll decide to completely withdraw their troops.” “At least the situation is not escalating,” I commented. “In Libya, yes, but the situation in Yemen and Saudi Arabia is different.” “What do you mean?” I asked, already concerned that what Kalron had for me would not be good. “The Saudis have refused to balk despite international pressure. From the communications we’ve intercepted, the Saudi Army will send 15,000 more troops to Yemen by tomorrow. In retaliation to Iran’s blockade of the Persian Gulf, it appears the Saudis are preparing airstrikes against Iranian military bases tonight.” “Kalron… this is not good. Is the international community aware of this? A full blown war between Saudi Arabia and Iran will destabilize the entire region. Millions of lives are at risk.” “From what I have gathered, the Americans are tacitly supportive of Saudi Arabia’s impending attack against Iran,” Kalron grimly replied. Then Kalron added, “It appears the US government will welcome any move from Saudi Arabia that will weaken Iran.” “But but… if this continues…” I stuttered as the thought of a large scale conflict erupting in the Middle East. “I know Chris,” Kalron replied as he shook his head in exasperation. “We have to deal with the demons as soon as possible. The longer we wait the worse things are becoming. If we have to pull them out of hiding, we should do so.” I suggested. I hesitated for a moment then continued, “I’ll go back to realm, I think I have a plan, we have to force the hand of whoever is behind this.” “What do you have in mind Chris?” “I’ll let you know once I get the approval of the King and of the High Circle.” “Wow… this sounds big,” Kalron muttered. “It is, we have to make our move. We cannot wait any longer,” I replied before leaving Kalron. -- I rushed to the palace and it’s good that Patri was already awake. “Chris…” Patri smiled as he saw me, then noticing my agitated state, he asked, “What is it Chris?” “Patri, we have to make a move. It will be too late if we don’t put pressure on the demons soon.” “What is the matter? We already have troops on standby,” Patri replied. “Yes, but the demons haven’t shown themselves yet. They’re still working in the shadows, manipulating countries into further conflict. I know we decided to wait for the demons to reveal themselves but If we let this go for any longer, we could have a major war in the Middle East soon.” “What do you suggest?” “We have to draw the demons out. Send them a message that we are ready to fight them. We need to make it clear to them that we’re out to get them. This chaos back on Earth couldn’t last any longer.” I paused then continued with a slightly softer voice, “Patri, if a large war breaks out back on Earth, do you think the barrier will hold? If millions die… and tens of millions more made refugees, don’t you think that will generate enough negative energy to put the realm’s protection under strain?” Patri didn’t immediately reply and appeared to be deep in thought. He took a deep breath, then replied, “You are right. What do you have in mind?” “Kalron noticed that the distortion in the magical fields have increased, so it appears the demons are preparing for their appearance but we can’t wait for that, by the time the reveal themselves the situation would already have worsened back on Earth. We have to force them to show themselves soon. We have to draw them out of hiding. I suggest that we attack first.” “Huh? Chris, we don’t have enough information, we’ll be risking thousands of lives if we send our troops while knowing so little,” Patri replied. “I know Patri, I’m not suggesting sending troops. Well, not yet anyway.” “So… what’s your plan?” “I can launch powerful Magnus Spells to Tobruk, Ibb, and Chennai. That should send a clear message to the demons that someone’s watching them and that it’s not just the humans that they have to deal with.” Patri rubbed his chin, then rubbed his hands together. “I know you’re powerful Chris but those places are thousands of miles away from Greensburg. Can your spells reach them?” “Yes, but I think I’ll have a better chance if I cast my spells from Rome. I can use the portal to get there.” I suggested. “I see. I guess we don’t have any other choice. I’ll inform the High Circle and the Advisory Council of this decision. You go back to Greensburg and inform the alliance.” “Thank you Patri,” I replied with a light bow then made my way back home. Within the next hour I called for an emergency meeting with the Alliance and informed them of my plan. Some Councilors from the VHC and WCC raised concerns as they saw that my proposal will only further provoke the demons. Members of the EU delegation were also worried that any possible retaliation from the demons might lead to an attack against EU territory. VHC Councilor Jeppe Theil spoke first after I explained my plan, “Your Highness, I understand where you are coming from but don’t you think this will incite a strong response from the demons? I don’t think our forces are ready for combat. We still need at least 48 hours before we have assembled enough forces for a possible ground attack from our end.” WCC Councilor Simon Flanagan then added, “I agree with Councilor Theil, we’re not yet ready. If the demons decide to release a horde of demons and anami against us, we’ll be put in a very difficult situation.” “I understand your concern, but we don’t have much time. As we speak, the situation is just getting worse, the more we wait, the stronger the demons are becoming. Remember, every human they get their hands on is fodder for their ranks. I agree, we’re not ready for troop deployment but I’m not asking for that. What I am asking is clearance for me to launch an attack against demon territory to force them to show themselves,” I replied. “I’m worried that if we attack, we’re putting our member countries at risk. Italy and Malta aren’t that far from Libya,” Horst Roth added. “If we provoke the demons, all we have to do is hold off any retaliation for the next 48 hours before our forces are ready,” I replied. “I agree with Prince Christopher, we have allowed the demons free reign for so long. We don’t have time to wait for what their next move is. Libya is in chaos, Yemen is in turmoil, countries are in the brink of war, and we have a virus spreading all over the world. If you’re concerned with any retaliation from the demons once the prince launches his attacks, can you imagine how stronger the demon response will be in the next two days if we continue to wait and allow them to increase in strength and numbers?” August piped in as he supported my plan. “I agree with Councilor August Smith and His Highness. I know we’re not yet ready but so are the demons. It's obvious they are not yet at full strength and I think it will be our undoing if we allow the demons to continue to grow in the shadows,” Reza added. After intense deliberation, we agreed to move forward with my plan. -- Back in the realm, Patri informed me that the High Circle and Advisory Council has consented to my proposal. It did not take long for me to find myself in a high speed train bound for the city of Majnar in the Southern Province. Uncle Rehanmir and Yal accompanied me for this operation. “I wish we had time to visit my home province, but I guess we’ll have to do that next time,” Yal said to me as we looked at the countryside of the Southern Province. The landscape outside was beautiful, trees and shrubs of various colors. I could even tell that the types of plants in the Southern Province were different to the ones I’ve seen in the Northern Province, Western Province, and Katar. However I was so deep in thought that I failed to fully marvel at the beauty of the Southern countryside, maybe I’ll do that next time. It took us almost an hour to get to the City of Majnar, 200 kilometers south of the Capital. When we arrived in the station, we were immediately whisked away to the portal by several members of the Civil Guard. When we arrived in the portal facility, we did not waste time and immediately activated the portal. With a brief flash of light and a slight tingling sensation, we found ourselves in the elvish facility in Rome. The building had several Royal Guards and Akros members in pastel blue and gray uniforms walking around. Then I remembered that the portal in Rome is also being used to funnel our troops into Earth. Outside the facility, a car prepared by the EU’s Centurion Force was waiting for us. We were going to be escorted by agents of the Centurion Force to a naval base outside the City of Rome. I have never been to Italy, in any other situation I would have taken my chance to look around but this was not the time for a vacation. I guess, I’ll just have to call in Luca’s offer of serving as my tour guide in Italy once all of this is over. It took as an hour to get to the naval base where an Italian Frigate was waiting for us. 6 agents from the Centurion Force escorted me, my uncle, and Yal into the Italian Frigrate, Carlo Bergamini. The ship is fairly new, equipped with modern weapons, and is at least 44 meters long. Launching my Magnus Spells from land would have risked too much attention from the media and civilian population, so it was decided that I cast my Magnus Spell offshore. The air was tense as the ship made its way to sea. Our escorts kept silent all throughout the journey while the naval officers we’ve bumped across tried to not draw any attention to themselves. The ship took us 60 kilometers off the coast of Italy. When we were given the information that we were far enough from the coast, we made our way to the open deck in the forward deck of the ship. Our escorts from the Centurion Force kept their distance, I also noticed at least a dozen officers from the ship observe us. “Are you ready?” Yal asked. “Yes…” I replied. I closed my eyes and expanded my aura. The surge of energy that I released immediately enclosed the entirety of the ship. With another deep breath, I reached out to the flow and sought for my targets. I searched for the demon presence in the flow for more than a minute and when I found where I was supposed to target direct my attacks, I opened my eyes. My uncle and Yal took a two or three steps back away from me as I started to cast a Magnus Spell. For these spells to reach the intended targets with enough force, the amount of energy I will be releasing will be stronger than the usual Magnus Spell. With my two hands, I formed the core of the spell with an energy ball made of 12 spells. I encased them further with layer upon layer of spell. The air around me felt heavy as the spell continued to gain in strength. I could feel the air become heavier and the waves in the sea get stronger as my spell crossed the 35-spell threshold. I continued to add more spells into the ball of energy, at some point I had to draw upon the Ring of Eyaha to give me more strength to complete my 60-layered Magnus Spell. Magnus Spells get progressively more difficult as more spells are involved. Only high level Platinums can even cast Magnus Spells that have 8 spells or more embedded in them. Casting a Magnus Spell up to 25 layers is almost second nature to me but any more than that takes more concentration, effort, and power. Now, holding a bright orb of energy the size of a soccer ball, my hands barely contained the energy, with no hesitation, I threw the ball towards Chennai, India. Then for the next 45 minutes I threw similar Magnus Spells towards Ibb, Yemen and Tobruk, Libya. The spells were designed to not create any physical damage but instead attack demonic energy. I used my knowledge of demonic aura from the demon generals and from studying soul magic to create spells that would specifically target entities that distorted the magical field. Thus, no human, vampire, or werewolf will be harmed in my attack. If anything, I knew that no demon would be hit by the Magnus Spell but the anti-demon energy it will release upon impact will surely weaken any demons nearby and gain the attention of the demon general or generals behind all this chaos. I was tired, and almost out of breath after I released the last Magnus Spell. I took a minute to calm my nerves then looked around the deck, my uncle and Yal stood in awe while the humans in the ship stood shell shocked with my display of raw power. I ignored their reactions for the meantime, pulled out my phone and called Kalron. “Kalron…” “Yes, your highness?” “Are you able to monitor the Magnus Spells? I hope I sent them towards the right direction,” I snickered still almost out of breath. Kalron giggled a bit, then replied, “I never knew a single spell could create enough distortion in the magical fields that our scanners would pick them up but again you’ve proven me wrong. I am monitoring the Magnus Spells as we speak, you’re right on target. “Now, let’s see how the demons will respond.” I thought out loud.
  2. Chapter 115 – Demon Slayer The “ceremony” that Victor and I went through has put both our minds and hearts at ease. Victor and I enjoyed the rest of the early elvish morning together atop the hill. We cuddled, kissed, and talked as if everything was the same, though deep down we both knew something significant has happened between us. I absolutely enjoyed my morning picnic with my boyfriend. Deep in our own thoughts, both thinking over what has transpired, we walked in silence back to the car. The air all throughout the capital remained awash with energy despite the songs having ended almost an hour ago. I am sure every citizen in the capital must feel the slight buzz in the air as the lingering marks of my magic slowly dissipated. The drive back to the palace was quick, looking out the car windows, I see that the city has started to awaken, the people seemed more energetic and joyful than usual, some had curious looks on their faces while others had a content expression, it appears that the song of soul has had an effect on the overall mood of the people. Back in the palace, Victor and I joined Patri, Matra, and Uncle Rehanmir for breakfast. Patri had an amused expression on his face as we joined the family, “So, that display of magic was undoubtedly yours?” Patri said smiling at me. “Oh, uhm yeah,” I shyly replied. “Dear, that was the best way to wake up, at first I was confused with the surge of energy, but I let myself bask in its glory, and all I can say is that it put my mind and heart at ease,” Matra added. “What was that all about?” Uncle Rehanmir asked. Victor and I exchanged glances, then I replied, “I kind of composed a new song, you know, like the ones from the Book of Songs, and I dedicated it to Victor, and uhm,” I replied while slightly nervously shifting on my seat, then continued, “I kind of tied our souls together,” I said, now blushing, exchanging furtive glances with my boyfriend. “Oh,” Patri replied. He then took a moment for himself, then looked at Matra then my uncle. They all looked at each other, then warm smiles were directed towards me and Victor. “Oh my, my dear boy, I am happy for the both of you!” Matra enthusiastically said as she stood and went over to me and my boyfriend to give us a reassuring hug. “Kalsa, dear, you’re smothering the boys,” Patri cackled as Matra continued to tightly hug me and Victor. “This is certainly great news, I don’t know what else you did Chris, but I feel something different in the air, it appears that there’s more magic going around, my instincts are telling me that the barrier has even strengthened,” Patri added. “Really?” I asked. “Yes, whatever you did, was not only good for you and Victor but for the realm as well, such a powerful yet gentle release of energy inside the realm is bound to strengthen it. The realm is a pocket dimension of its own and it appears you’ve added to its pool of energy,” Patri replied. “Hmm… I did not take that into consideration,” I said as I thought on what other effects my magic will have in the realm. “What can I say, Chris is a special man,” Victor said as he pulled me in a sideways hug. “That he is,” Patri agreed. We spent the next half hour with my family then it was back to Greensburg. It was half past 9 when Victor and I got home, the house was already quiet, with the 12 hour difference, it was already 9:30pm in Virginia. “What a day huh?” I said to Victor. “Yeah, what a day indeed,” Victor mused as he had this faraway look. “What are you thinking of?” I asked. Victor smiled at me, the pulled me in for a hug, “Just that I am the luckiest vampire in the world. Chris, I have been in this world for more than 260 years and I honestly never thought I would be this happy but you changed all that. I know we have only known each other for less than half a year but now I couldn’t imagine my life without you.” I got misty eyed hearing Victor’s words and all I could do was pull in tighter into his hug. We both peacefully slept in each other’s arms that night. -- I woke to Victor gently caressing of my face, “Good morning,” he said. “Good morning,” I smiled. “Anything planned for the day?” “I have some sort of spar with Gramps and Patri in a few hours. Wanna come?” “Oh my…” Victor startled for a moment. “I wouldn’t miss the chance to see you spar with those two, this is such a rare treat.” “Come on Victor, you’ve seen elves fight before, you’ve seen me fight with Patri before as well.” “But Chris, this is the first time you’re taking on the both of them at once.” “You’re right. Maybe I should invite the others to watch too. You can invite Henry to come as well, that if he’s available,” I replied. “That would be good.” “How was last night you love birds?” Etalos teased us as we joined the rest of the household for breakfast. Victor and I only blushed in return. “It was amazing,” Victor replied. “Of course it was, it was all over elvish news,” Etalos retorted with a smug expression of his own. “Huh?” I asked. “Whatever magic you did affected everyone in the capital and the nearby towns and villages,” Etalos added. “Did anyone get hurt?” I asked slightly getting worried and also slowly losing appetite. Etalos grinned, then replied, “Contrary to that, everyone felt better than ever, it lightened everyone’s mood and might even have sped up the healing of those in the healing centers in the capital.” “Seriously?” I asked. “Yes, the sensors in the realm recorded a spike in magic, though instead of an explosion, it was more of a gentle tide of new power filling the realm,” Kalron added. “Must have been very powerful,” dad spoke out loud to himself. Hearing dad speak, brought my attention to him. I gave my dad a teasing look then asked, “So, you were gone the entire day, what’s that about? Anything to confess?” Dad started to turn pink but repeatedly deflected my attempts to pry more information from him. I decided to let him be for the time being. “Anyway, I have a sparring session with Gramps and Patri in an hour, you’re all free to come and watch,” I said. “Oh boy, I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” Nomir said with a hint of excitement in his voice. “I’d be glad to be a spectator, goodness, King Ethnar, King ZoHal and Prince Christopher trading magical blows is a once in a lifetime event,” Etalos added. “It’s not that big of a deal guys,” I said. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy then they all laughed. I guess they found me funny. -- We were now in a large training arena in the palace complex. The sparring stage that was made of solid rock, circular in shape, 5 feet thick and 600 feet in diameter. In the stands about 50 feet from the edge of the arena stood our spectators. Those watching were Victor, Henry, everyone from my household, the royal family, the High Mage Zenfar, Master Healer Sarad, and Yal. I was wearing a tight black combat uniform while Gramps wore something similar in white while Patri wore his in red. The tight fit showing off their trim bodies, for someone being a thousand and 500 years old, both of them are clearly in shape. Gramps had his black trident with him while Patri was wearing a circlet made of red and gold metal. Damn, that circlet must be his vessel. Seems like both guys will be fighting at max power and speed, ready to fully unleash their second ascended power at me. I smiled at Patri then said, “Glad to see your vessel Patri.” “It’s about time I showed you what else I got to offer,” Patri smiled back. The arena was then surrounded by a faint energy bubble as the High Mage turned on the protective barrier around us as a precaution to prevent our spells from reaching them, or worse, the city outside the palace complex. Though I doubt the barrier will hold for long from any of our Magnus Spells. With a blow of a horn our fight began. Gramps and Patri moved so fast I almost lost track of them. They both went towards opposite directions to divide my attention. King Ethnar was now in front of me while Patri took his place behind me, both of them around 60 feet from me. Without any warning they both released powerful spells towards me, gramps launched an earth dragon while Patri released a powerful beam of fire. I clapped my hands together and generated a powerful bubble around me. I saw King Ethnar’s trident glow from the distance and felt him pump more energy into the large dragon made of rocks. From behind me I felt Patri do the same as he fed his fire attack with more energy. There was a loud explosion as both their attacks made contact with my shield. The dragon started to wrap itself around my bubble while Patri’s flames appeared to spread all over the surface of my protective barrier. My shields held but both attacks continued to pounce outside my bubble of energy. Then I noticed something weird, both Patri’s and Gramps’ attacks as separate spells are supposed to be in conflict with each other due to the difference in their energy signatures but instead of that it appears that their attacks with working in concert with one another to weaken my protective bubble. King Ethnar’s earth dragon appeared to be absorbing Patri’s flames and it started to glow in the edges. “Fuck,” I muttered as I realized my shields won’t hold for long. I had to think of something and quick! My shields started to buckle under pressure and the moment the bubble broke, I threw an energy ball made of 18 spells towards the dragon. I followed it with a powerful water spell to disperse Patri’s flames. The dragon was not fast enough to escape my attack while Patri’s flames were not strong enough against my water attack. I put my attention towards the older elves and threw multiple water and ice balls against Patri while I sent 5 fire discs towards gramps. Patri dodged my attacks while gramps defended himself by generating a wall of earth in front of him. Patri was smiling at me then I saw his circlet faintly glow and I realized he was gathering more energy from his vessel. His eyes glowed red for a split second then without missing a beat he sent large waves of flames towards me. I made an earth wall to protect myself but gramps moved from behind me and gave me a powerful punch and kick. That moment of distraction was enough for my earth wall to crumble and I found myself on the receiving end of Patri’s attack. Good thing I was fast enough to cast a protective ice cocoon around myself as protection against the blazing heat of Patri’s attack. “Don’t lose track of the other,” Gramps said to me. “Yeah, I know,” I huffed. Gramps spun his trident around, dredging large chunks of rock off the arena while Patri was creating fire tornadoes of his own. To my surprise gramps directed his rocks towards Patri’s tornadoes and to much added frustration at my end, I realized they have combined their spells, now there were multiple fire tornadoes with glowing boulders inside of them moving towards me. I sent an energy beam to one of the tornadoes but Gramps intercepted my attack and protected the flaming whirlwind. I hurled large ice balls and spikes against the swirling flaming masses to no avail. I was getting more frustrated by the second. Gramps and Patri started a string of incantations and the flaming twisters grew larger as I felt the older elves add more energy to massive twisters. Groaning in frustration I jumped high in the air and then struck the ground hard sending large wave of earth across the arena to put both men off their feet but despite being in a trance-like state, gramps was lucid enough to shift his feet and stop my attack on its tracks. Realizing that I was outmatched without any vessel, I called upon the Sword of Tarud and Ring of Eyaha. Now holding the sword of the founder of the second elvish royal house, I gathered a large amount of energy around the blade and swung it around. Every swing led to a bright blade made of pure energy flying into the air, each strike of the energy blade into the fire twisters led to powerful explosions, each moment of contact sapped energy from the combined swirling pools of fire and rock. Both Patri and Gramps tried to intercept my attacks to no avail as each swing from the Sword of Tarud was too much for their spells. Several minutes later, the combined fire and rock twisters have been reduced to not more than 12 feet tall and 5 feet across from their previous peak of 30 feet in height and 18 feet in width. The twisters continued to dance throughout the arena in search of me but now it was way easier for me to dodge them. With Tarud’s Sword in hand I sent several energy blades towards King Ethnar and Patri and now it was their turn to struggle. In a moment of desperation, Patri clapped his hands together and created flaming wings for himself. This allowed him to fly away but I knew such a spell is hard to maintain and it must have further sapped his energy pool. Gramps on the other hand was fairing a bit better than his son but it was now clear his was struggling too. The spar shifted from magic to more of hand to hand combat, I traded swift and powerful blows with both the older elves, with our aura reinforced hands and feet, each contact created a loud thunderous booms as our auras collided. Some punches and kicks were powerful enough that in contact the ground underneath would buckle and crack under pressure. The arena was filled with magic that I could basically taste the energy in the air. I was more than surprised with the amount of coordination both King Ethnar and Patri had, they worked in tandem like a well-oiled machine and I found it hard to properly defend myself from their perfect synchronization. “You’re getting distracted Chris,” I heard Patri say as he landed a strong punch against me. “Fuck,” I grumbled in response. The fight went one for god knows how long, it was only when Uncle Rehanmir blew the horn that I knew the fight was over and it was declared a tie. I took a moment to collect my thoughts and steady myself. I looked around the arena and saw that both the older elves were tired and panting as well. “Seems like we wrecked the arena, huh?” Gramps huffed as he pointed the heavily damaged stage. “That appears to be the case,” Patri added as he shook his head in a mixture of amusement and disbelief. “How long were we at it?” I asked. “If Rehanmir had to end it, it must have been an hour,” Patri replied. “Damn, my body hurts,” I groaned. “As it should, I’m bruised all over. Good thing Sarad and Zenfar are hear, they should be able to patch us a bit with some healing spells,” Gramps replied. “I’m too old for this,” King Ethnar complained as the three of us made our way towards the healers. -- After several recovery spells from Sarad and Zenfar, I felt good as new while my grandfather and great grandfather still felt a little bit sore, I guess being young really does have its perks. The entire entourage spent half an hour in the palace for some light snacks then it was back to Greensburg for all of us. Back at home we were greeted by Leo who seemed lost, as my best friend he was more than free to enter the house anytime, “where have you guys been?” he asked “We went to the palace. I sparred with Gramps and Patri,” I replied. “And you did not invite me?!” Leo exclaimed. “I did, but you were asleep, guess August kept you up all night huh?” I teased. Leo blushed but did not deny my accusation. “So where’s August?” I added. “Oh, he went back to Baltimore, they’re big move is tomorrow.” “It’s good that he’ll be close by,” I replied. Leo grinned and agreed. “Patrick will be flying in from Atlanta this afternoon, as the new Governor of District 4, he’s expected to welcome August’s pack in the district,” Victor chimed in. “Oh good. I haven’t seen Patrick for a while.” “He’s been busy,” Victor replied. “With all that has been happening, I can only imagine.” I retorted as we made our way to the kitchen. “Anyone else going the welcoming party?” I asked. “Hmm…” Leo started as he rubbed his chin in thought, “August mentioned that several pack leaders from around the area will be there too.” “Ah I see. I guess it’s gonna get rowdy then?” “Hopefully not. Actually, I’m really nervous.” Leo somberly replied. “Why?” I asked as I drew closer to my best friend. “You know, now that August has moved to Greensburg for me, our relationship is now out there in the open for the entire werewolf community to see.” I hugged my best friend then whispered to him, “All will be fine Leo. August loves you and that’s all that matters. His pack loves you and we all love you! If anyone has any problem with your relationship with August then they’ll have to go through me!” I pulled back from our hug then added, “I’m pretty good in a fight you know, you’re not half bad yourself,” I teased as I lightly punched his shoulder. “Seriously, don’t worry too much, just be happy. I had the same concerns when I realized how influential Victor was in the vampire community, so I understand and you can always talk to me okay?” “Thanks, Chris.” Leo appreciatively said. -- I spent an hour in the afternoon studying the Book of Songs. In the past few days, I have learned a lot from it but every time I read it I learn so much more, its potential is boundless and I am thrilled and afraid at the same time of the power it holds within. After studying, I asked Etalos to join me in Kalron’s office. “Any updates on the humans?” I asked Kalron. “As expected the Canadians and Europeans have endorsed their participation in the alliance,” Kalron replied. “And the Americans?” I inquired, not exactly hopeful. “They’re working on it. Congressman Taylor has been replaced by someone more acceptable but the bureaucracy is slowing the process down,” Kalron explained, the frustration with the reluctance on the part of the Americans to join the alliance was not hard to miss in Kalron’s voice. “And the other nations?” I asked Etalos. “Reza and Konrad are in touch with their contacts in China, Japan, Australia, and Russia.” “Hopefully our experience with them will not be as bad as with the Americans,” I huffed. “It’s there loss if they don’t join. They’ll realize it sooner or later. For now, they might not be that interested as most of the demon threat appears to be in the United States, but there’s nothing stopping the demons from wreaking havoc elsewhere. When that happens… I’m sure the others will be keen to talk to us,” Kalron replied. “Any updates on the military base in Arizona?” I asked. Kalron perked up, straightened himself and replied, “Actually, yes. There’s something going on in that base.” “What do you mean?” Etalos asked. “The base is new that’s for sure, satellite imagery show that it didn’t exist 6 months ago. What’s even more intriguing is that the sensors and scanners Arnos installed in the base revealed that most of the base’s activity is underground.” “Huh?” Now it was my turn to be curious. “It’s a labyrinth underneath. Multiple layers of underground levels. It appears several missiles, planes, and drones, and training area for soldiers are embedded more than a hundred feet underground.” “Really?” I said as I rubbed my forehead in concern. “Yes. What worries me is that high level communications to and from the base are highly encrypted, even our systems and best spies are having a hard time decrypting them.” Kalron added. “Kalron, should we be worried?” “Not yet, but clearly something is up.” “What if there are other bases like this all over the country? Other nations could have hidden facilities too.” Etalos added. “That’s highly probable.” Kalron replied. -- I dropped by Victor’s place late in the afternoon and the first person I saw was Patrick. “Patrick!” I shouted as I hugged Victor’s oldest progeny. “You look well Chris,” Patrick replied as he returned my hug. “Glad to see you.” “Right back at yah,” Patrick said as he gave me one of his signature smiles. Damn he’s hot. “No perving on Patrick,” Victor said as he walked in on us. I blushed while Patrick only gave a small laugh. “I wasn’t perving on him!” I denied. “Uh huh…” Victor said as he gave me a once over. “So… a werewolf party tomorrow huh?” I said changing subjects. “It’s good that August has finally moved here, it was about time.” Victor added. “Yeah, Leo is excited and anxious about it.” I said as the three of us walked towards Victor’s study. “I can only imagine,” Patrick mused. Then for the next hour or so I caught up with Patrick about his experience as District 4’s newest governor. Patrick kept on complaining about how hard it was but deep inside I feel he was having fun and proud that Victor trusted him enough to take over. -- Victor, Patrick, and Henry were not able to join us for dinner at home as they needed to discuss matters that involved the VHC. Dinner was animated especially when Etalos and Kalron started a conversation about American comedy shows. Dad and I found their antics hilarious while Nomir joined in every now and then and all in all it was fun to enjoy each other’s company. When Leo joined us for dessert things got even livelier as apparently his humor is on the same wavelength as Etalos and Kalron. With the long day I had, I did not have the energy to visit the Tower. I immediately went to sleep when I got to my bedroom. The following day, Victor, Patrick, Henry together with their human household members, Troy and Mark, joined us for breakfast. The entire group had a lively discussion on the latest news over our morning meal. We then all, broke into smaller groups after breakfast and took the downtime to rest for August’s welcome party. “They should be moving in now,” Henry thought out loud. “Can they do it in such a short time?” I asked. Henry smiled at me then replied, “August is Clan Alpha remember? I’m sure he hired the best werewolves to move his belongings. They’ll be done by noon.” “What time is the party again?” I asked. “2pm.” Henry replied. “So just a light lunch then?” “Yeah… Werewolves are amazing cooks and definitely meat biased, they’re partial on the bloody side so… I won’t miss out on that.” “Sigh… you and your fascination for blood,” I teased Henry. The vampire only gave me a sly smile in return. -- August’s compound was in the outskirts of Greensburg, approximately 5 miles from my house. It was located in a heavily wooded area of town. Houses were far in between. The area was perfect for a pack of werewolves. August’s house was in a 50 acre (20 hectares) plot of land, more than enough room for his pack to roam free should they feel the need to shift and run around. The property was surrounded by a 5 feet dark brick perimeter wall. Near the middle of the property stood a 2 story Georgian mansion. It was a large house with a dark orange brick wall façade and dark gray tiled roof. There were already several cars lined in the parkway, some of which I recognized belonged to August’s pack, some however were unfamiliar, thus I can only assume them to be from werewolves from other packs that decided to pay respect to August’s transfer. We were greeted in the portico by Arthur, one of the twins in August’s pack. “Welcome! Glad you all could make it! I’m really happy to see all of you again.” He said as he pulled me in for a brotherly hug. “It’s been so long,” I replied. “Well, I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of us now,” he grinned at me. “Of course.” Arthur invited us inside the warmly decorated house and found the other pack members in lively conversations with unfamiliar looking werewolves. I saw Cage not far away from us and he excused himself from the werewolf he has been talking with. “Your highness…” He said lightly bowing at me. “None of that Cage.” I said. Cage smiled at me and then I pulled August’s deputy in for a hug. “You’ve got quite the event going on, I hope we’re not intruding.” “Of course you aren’t. Leo has been waiting for you, Arnold has been keeping him company but I guess he’s still feeling left out.” “Oh. Where is he?” “Outside by the pool.” “I’ll go get him then.” As I made my way to find Leo, our group dispersed and made ourselves comfortable in the festivity. It did not take long for me to find Leo in a deep conversation with Arthur’s twin, Arnold. “Hey!” I said, as I made my presence known. “Glad you could make it,” Arnold said as he saw me. “We wouldn’t miss this for the world. I hope we’re not late.” “Nah, you’re just in time.” Arnold then gave me a brief overview of the property, it had 8 bedrooms, a gym, an underground training area, and outdoor training area, a pool, a library, and a weapons area. As I was talking with Arnold, August approached us with 2 unfamiliar looking men. “Chris, I’d like you to meet Gerard and Sergei, my other two pack members.” Gerard was buff and heavily muscular, he had sharp features, a clean shaven head, a well-trimmed beard, piercing blue eyes and stood at 6’5. He was a large man and he had an intimidating aura. Sergei on the other hand had an athletic build, stood 6’3, a buzz cut brown hair, green eyes, and had sharp Slavic features. Both guys looked to be in their mid-thirties and had serious expressions on their faces. I remember August explaining that both men are in-charge dealing on inter-pack squabbles and with their overall demeanor, I can imagine them both being very good at their job. Which entails them to be always away thus why I haven’t had the chance to meet them so far. “Nice to meet the both of you!” I said as I offered my hand to the both of them. Sergei shook my hand first, followed by Gerard. “Your highness,” Gerard greeted as he accepted my hand. “Please, Chris will do, you’re August’s family after all, and any good friend of August is a good friend of mine.” August loudly laughed and patted both werewolves at the back, “See, no need to be so serious the both of you.” August then smirked at me, “Don’t worry about them Chris, they’re just a bit put off by your aura.” “Aura?” “You’re leaking way too much energy…” August replied as he waived his hand in the air as if he expected this conversation to happen. “Really?” I asked in disbelief. “You’re a bit dense aren’t you? Haven’t you noticed every other non-pack member of mine in this party has had their eyes on you for the past minute or so?” August said. I then looked around and expanded my senses and realized, August was right, I felt everyone’s attention on me. “Oops…” I nervously giggled. “See boys, that’s just Chris, he’s not doing it on purpose, and sometimes he just doesn’t know he’s leaking way too much energy. He’s not doing it to intimidate you. Don’t be nervous around him, you’ll get used to it.” August added as he patted and gave a reassuring squeeze on Sergei and Gerard’s shoulders. So maybe that’s why both werewolves seemed so tense, apparently my aura has been setting alarm bells off. “Don’t worry, I’m harmless.” I said to Sergei and Gerard as I gave them a reassuring smile. “Best joke of the century,” Leo giggled from the side. “Just don’t get on his bad side, and you’ll both be fine,” August added. “Don’t mind them, I’m nice. Glad to finally meet the both of you,” I said to both men. “Uhm, thanks… we’re looking forward to settling here in Greensburg.” Sergei nervously replied. “We’ll gladly help you settle down, you may drop by my place any time,” I said to them. For the next 15 minutes or so, I exchanged idle conversation with Sergei, Gerard, Arnold, and Leo. August left us to our own devices as he socialized with the other werewolves in the party. Aside from our group of vampires, elves, and humans, there were 12 werewolves not from August’s pack in the party, 8 pack leaders, 4 of which were accompanied by their deputies. As the party went on, things got livelier, the werewolves engaged in games, most of which were tests of strength and agility. Like weightlifting contests and obstacle races. At some point Patrick, Henry, and Nomir joined in. Later on, I was coaxed into joining a 300 meter obstacle course, I caved under pressure and joined. The course required players to crawl, climb, jump, and swing around, there were even harmless booby traps all over the course designed to impede one’s progress. In the course, I was joined by Cage, Fred, Sergei, three other pack alphas, Nomir, and Henry. With a blow of a whistle, the race started and I got in the zone. All my focus was on the obstacle course ahead of me. I was so focused that it was only when I finished the race that my senses returned. I looked around and everyone was in shock. I finished the course in under 2 minutes. Cage who finished second, took 5 minutes and 20 seconds. August broke the ice by saying, “I guess we should leave such contests for us mere mortals.” That statement made everyone laugh and it was back to a merriment for the rest of us. At some point in the party, some pack leaders approached me and told me they were big fans of mine. Apparently my reputation has leaked into the werewolf community as well. If I was known as the ‘Platinum Prince’ among the elves, with the werewolves, I am known as the ‘demon slayer’. I don’t know what to make of it but that title does have a nice ring to it. When Jeffrey and Mike, two pack leaders left. August joined me and said, “That took some guts for them to approach you.” He said. “What do you mean?” “Gosh, Chris, you should work on sensing the emotions of people around you, it took all their courage to approach you, it seems the chance to speak with the ‘demon slayer’ was too good of a chance for them to pass on.” “I can’t be that intimidating,” I retorted after taking a bite from a hotdog on stick. “You keep on telling that to yourself,” August smirked at me. “Enough about me… How’s the move? I hope you’ll like it here.” “Changing topics eh? Anyway… of course I’d love it here, Leo’s here after all,” August replied giving me a wink. Then he added, “It also doesn’t hurt that a VHC Councilor and the Elvish Ambassador is in town. Makes it easier for our communities to work together.” Dad, Etalos, Kalron, and I left the party at 11pm but the following day, Victor told me it ended at around 2am or something, apparently werewolves could still get drunk if you give them enough alcohol. -- I slept in the following day and woke up just before noon. I was in the kitchen drinking juice when Dad walked in on me. “How’s it going sport?” Dad asked. “Just tired from yesterday dad. How about you?” “Yeah, quite the party, those werewolves are quite the rowdy bunch eh?” “You can say that again,” I chortled. “With August’s pack being in town, seems like my job as the state’s liaison officer just became a bit more interesting.” “Hah! Yeah, you’ve got an elf prince, vampire councilor and werewolf councilor to deal with now,” I teased dad. “Good thing they’re all close friends though, and one of them is my son!” Dad snickered. While I joined dad in cooking lunch, I felt a tingle at the back of head, some sort of itch but not quite, I let it go and focused my attention to cooking bacon and eggs. At around 1pm, everyone in the house was awake and helping in the preparing lunch. As we were about to start eating, I started feeling faint, like a wave of uneasiness hit me and I lost my balance. Good thing I regained my strength and caught myself against the wall. Etalos and Kalron saw me, and my assistant asked, “Is everything alright Chris?” “Yeah, just feeling under the weather,” I replied with a weaker than normal voice. “Do elves get sick?” I asked. “Yes, but not that often,” Kalron replied. “I must have caught a bug or something then.” Etalos gave me an appraising look, “Something doesn’t feel right, your aura is way off.” He exchanged a nervous look with Kalron and asked Nomir to join us. “Nomir, tell me if you feel anything wrong with Chris’ aura,” Etalos said to our household bodyguard. Nomir looked at me and when our auras touched, his eyes went wide then he said, “He’s not well, it’s not a physical illness, there’s a hint of malevolent energy in his aura, something’s not right.” “I’ll be right back,” Etalos said as he ran off. “Where are you going?” I asked, my vision slightly blurring as I slowly felt my strength leave my body. “You’re sick, I’m calling for the Master Zenfar and Sarad,” Etalos quipped then disappeared. “Come here, let me help you,” Nomir said as he and Kalron assisted me back to my room. The moment I settled on my bed, I immediately went to sleep. However my slumber was restless filled with confusing dreams of garbled and distorted imagery. I couldn’t exactly remember the dreams I had but I am certain they weren’t good. I woke in the palace’s medical bay, Victor sitting not far away from my bed, Master Healer Sarad was going over my body with a miniature scanner of some sort. “Good, you are awake,” Sarad said to me with a wan smile. “What happened?” I asked, my voice was hoarse and my throat felt dry. “We’re not yet sure,” The healer said to me. Victor approached, gave me a worried look, kissed my forehead, “You had us worried,” he said. “It took me and 12 other gold level healers to stabilize you,” Sarad added. “Huh?” “Though we’re not exactly sure what happened to you, we are at least sure you were having some sort of episode involving malevolent energy.” “What do you mean?” “Your aura was way off when I got to you. We immediately rushed you here and our scanners showed an increase in demon taint in your aura.” “Could this have been triggered by a demon general being active? When Azarahel started attacking Fort Smith, I had some sort of episode as well.” “Maybe, but this one seems a bit different. It’s taking longer than usual for your scan results to be analyzed, but it should be ready in a few hours.” “Where are the others?” I asked. “As you said, you had a similar episode when Azarahel attacked, Kalron brought the matter up and the rest have gone into their search for the next demon general. Kalron, Prince Rehanmir, and Yal are back in Greensburg monitoring the scanners on Earth, The King is in a meeting with several senior members of Akros, The Royal Guard, and Civil Guard,” Sarad explained. Sarad and Victor then spent another 15 minutes to explain the situation to me, after which I got tired and went back to sleep. When I woke again, Patri, High Mage Zenfar and Yal were in the room. Patri gave me a light smile when he saw me stir and open my eyes. “How are you feeling?” He asked. “Better” “Good” “Any updates?” I asked. The moment I asked that question, gloom took over Patri’s expression. “What’s the matter?” I asked again. I straightened myself from the bed and sat upright while the rest sat in stools near me, Patri then cleared his throat and said, “Our initial suspicions were correct. Your episode has been caused by demon activity.” “Scans of the magical field on Earth show demon energy distortion,” Yal added. “Shit,” I replied. Patri snorted at my choice of words then carried on, “That’s not all, and it appears the demons are active in multiple locations.” “Huh?” I asked. “The scans showed faint distortions in 3 areas,” Yal answered. “So three demon generals then?” I asked as the gravity of the situation slowly hit me. “That’s the worst case scenario, however it could also be possible that a single demon general has split his cohorts in the three concerned areas.” Patri replied. “Where?” I asked. “Tobruk in Libya, Ibb in Yemen, and Chennai in India.” Patri said with a serious look. His demeanor told me how critical the situation is. “I should start with my air magic training then, I have to ascend to the fourth level as soon as possible.” I insisted. “I agree, but you have to rest,” Patri retorted as he gave my left hand a reassuring pat followed by a squeeze. “I can recover in the Hall of Maktar, we can save time there,” I said with an urgent tone. “I warn against that,” Zenfar interjected. “Why?” I asked, confused with the High Mage’s words. “You’re at a weakened state now and your aura is still a bit off, we don’t know how time dilation will affect you,” he warned. Then he added, “You are healthy enough to return to Greensburg in a few hours but Sarad and I suggest that you rest tomorrow.” “But…” I started to protest. “Chris, no buts, we need you strong and healthy. Yes, the situation is urgent but we’re still in the dark with how things are in the ground anyway. We will spend the next few hours assessing the situation. There’s no point rushing blindly into a situation we know nothing about,” Patri said. After taking a nap for an hour, Victor and Etalos escorted me back to my room in Greensburg. It was already almost midnight back on earth when I got home. Victor snuggled with me on my bed then said, “I know you’re stressed and worried, we all are, but you have to rest.” “I can’t help it Victor, this might be worse than before,” I mumbled as I pulled him closer for a hug. “Just sleep for now, we will have more information in the morning,” Victor said. I was restless the entire night but at least I got a few hours’ worth of shut eye. The sun was barely up when I rose and made my way to kitchen to get breakfast. The house was eerily quiet as I prepared myself as sandwich. “There you are,” dad said as he walked into the room. “Feeling better?” He asked with a tinge of concern in his voice. “Yes, whatever those healers did…worked, though I have been ordered to rest for the entire day,” I replied with a hint of annoyance in my tone. “I suggest you follow their orders, Chris, don’t overexert yourself,” Dad remarked. Of course he’d say that. Dad always looked out for me. Kalron and Etalos were not able to join us for breakfast. Kalron was in his study, busy coordinating the elvish intelligence gathering effort. Etalos on the other hand was in the realm, making arrangements with various security officers regarding a possible elvish military response to the threat back here on earth. Victor left the house before lunch as he had an urgent meeting with the VHC. The meeting was called for by Reza and Victor did not have a clue what the meeting was all about. All Victor said was it appeared the meeting had something to do with the demons. -- It was already mid-afternoon when Kalron left his study and knocked on my door. I was in the middle of reading some spell books when I heard Kalron’s knock. “Come in,” I said. “Chris, do you have a moment?” Kalron asked. “Of course Kalron, what is it?” Giving Kalron a discreet once over, I could see he barely had any sleep. He looked tired and paler than usual. “It’s about the demon situation. I have some news. It’s not much but my network has gathered a bit of information.” “Kalron, please sit.” I said, asking him to sit close to me. “What is it?” I asked the moment Kalron took his seat. “We have verified that the distortions are indeed demonic in nature, all in three different countries, and in the past 24 hours or so, there have been several developments that might be linked to demons. As you already know, there’s a civil war going in both Libya and Yemen so bloodshed and chaos has been the norm there for several years now, initially it was hard for us to isolate events or behavior that might be out of character since there is no overt displays of demon magic involved unlike what happened in Fort Smith. However, using predictive behavior modeling and running various algorithms, my team found that an uptick in bombings and clashes in Tobruk in Libya and Ibb in Yemen yesterday can’t be traced to the movements of any previously existing militia or rebel group in the conflict, it appears new factions have instigated the rise in violence yesterday.” “Okay, at least we’re getting somewhere. So no obvious demon bubble huh?” I asked again. “Yes, it appears that the demons involved are trying to use the civil war to conceal their presence.” “It’s a smart move on their part, those areas have weak governments and multiple warring sides, they could basically hide in plain sight if they wanted to.” I added then I thought for moment then asked, “How about India? Isn’t there a distortion in Chennai as well? There’s no civil war in India.” “Hmm… that’s another curious case, Chris.” Kalron replied, he paused then continued, “Initially my team found nothing amiss in the city, then the deeper we dug, we started uncovering something suspicious.” “What is it?” “Several of my agents came across news reports from local media of an unknown disease spreading in the slums of Chennai. It appears to be something new and unheard of but the local government has put it under wraps, even the WHO has not yet been alerted of this new disease. Initial data shows around 150 people have already caught the disease and more than thirty have already died.” “So are you suggesting that this disease must be connected to the demon distortion?” “That’s a possibility, I conferred with Master Yalekin and Master Sarad, our records show that more than a thousand years ago, one of the demon generals was known to be proficient in the use of plagues as a tool of spreading darkness and chaos in the world. The resulting grief and disorder from large scale pestilence increases the negative energy in the flow.” “We have to do something about this Kalron, have the others been notified?” “I have already sent a memo to the VHC and the WCC. The King and his senior advisers have also been notified as well.” “Good job Kalron. Thank you for your hard work. However, I see that you are tired, please rest, even for a moment, we need you at full strength.” I said. Kalron gave me an appreciative smile and nodded before he excused himself to rest. “Fuuuck…” I groaned out loud in frustration. I felt helpless doing nothing at this point. Hopefully Patri would agree that I can start my training with air magic by tomorrow. -- Early in the evening, an emergency meeting was called between the VHC, WCC, and the Elves. The gravity of the situation further sunk in as when the screens lit, I realized for the first time ever, the Vampire High Council and Werewolf Crescent Council are in complete attendance. Uncle Rehanmir, Yal, Etalos, and Jetan joined me as part of the elvish delegation. For the next three hours we drafted multiple courses of action for possible scenarios. We all deliberated the complexity of the situation especially since multiple nations are involved. Things are even more problematic since the civil wars in Libya and Yemen involved other countries too. Not only do we have to deal with the almost nonexistent governments in Libya and Yemen but we have to talk to the other countries that have vested interests in the civil wars, apparently the conflicts in Yemen and Libya has become a proxy war for multiple regional alliances of countries grappling for influence in the Middle East. India on the other hand poses another problem of its own, ever since the nationalist and right wing government took over, the VHC and WCC’s relationship with the Indian government has been strained at best. In the meantime it was decided that the three races will heighten security measures, increase surveillance in the concerned countries, and start a military buildup for a possible intervention. The elvish government has decided to use the portals in New York, London, and Rome to funnel troops into earth. For the meantime we opted to not yet use the portal in Guangzhou, China as the Chinese Jade Brigade is not yet privy to the existence and return of the elves, that’s an entirely different matter that we have to sort out soon. -- I spent the rest of the night in Tower, researching on more information about the demons, however one scroll after another I ended up with passages on Soul Magic or the Tashik Method instead. So, huffing in frustration I studied the lost elvish art of soul energy manipulation rather than learning on the nature of demons and dark magic. The following day, Patri and the Master Healer gave me the green light to start my training on Air Magic. I immediately went to the Hall of Maktar and was greeted by a middle aged lady and a younger looking male elf. The older lady is Master Anisa, the same mage that represented the element of air in my Ascension. She was joined by Pebor, her assistant. Master Anisa, is a powerful Air Mage, having the seat of the element of Air in the Mage council. She is a small lady of 5’2 with a slim build, light brown hair, brown eyes, and Italian features. Pebor is slightly taller at 5’5, also in a slim build, dark curly hair, dark brown eyes, and had Italian facial characteristics too, it was easy for me to spot them as members of the Sokodeya tribe, people from the Southern province just like Yal. “It is a pleasure to finally meet you, your highness,” Anisa said as she gave me a light bow. I returned her bow, and replied, “The pleasure is mine.” “I wish this training was under a different circumstance. To my understanding, this is urgent in nature, am I correct?” she asked. “Yes, indeed. Trouble is brewing back on Earth.” “I see. Then let us begin.” Master Anisa despite looking like someone who is in her early forties is actually 322 years old, Pebor on the other hand who looked like someone not more than 27 or 28 years old is actually 135. The Master is a Platinum Level Air Mage while Pebor has recently reached gold. In order to accommodate Pebor’s lower tolerance for time dilation we decided on a 1:5 ratio. I was to spend 2 days in the chamber thus 10 days in training. The first 3 days in the Hall of Maktar were spent learning Air magic theories. It is slightly similar to Water magic but quite different as well. The key difference however was the mass of Air and how temperature changes made air magic spells more volatile and unpredictable. On my fourth day, I was able to finally cast a low level air spell and generated light gust of wind on my own. I was ecstatic with my progress but I also knew I had to learn so much more and do better in the coming days. On the fifth day, I was happy to generate stronger gusts of wind, and even simultaneously hold small air balls in my hand for more than 5 minutes at any given time. What was frustrating though was the moment I threw the ball across the room, it almost dissipated immediately. The 6th and 7th days were spent strengthening the form and resilience of my air spells, making sure my air balls and wind blades lasted for more than several seconds at any given time. The 8th day was spent on the magical theories of advanced air magic. Everything felt rushed but I had no choice, I had to master or at least be proficient in air magic as soon as possible. However, what bothered me at the back of my head was that I didn’t know what level of magical proficiency I needed to have to unlock the next level of ascension. I needed to master all four elements to unlock the next key but how good should I be? On the 9th day, I started to learn more advanced spells, Anisa and Pebor were very patient with me and even showed surprise with my progress. At one point, Master Anisa mentioned how I was learning faster than expected. On my 9thday, she noted that I was already as proficient in air magic as a low level silver air mage. She sounded proud when she said that but it was not enough for me. I needed to be stronger. That evening, I drew strength from the Ring of Eyaha and tapped energy from the Chains of Haldruin, I practiced all night, went over the scrolls and books as Anisa and Pebor slept in the resting quarters of the Hall of Maktar. On the tenth day, the morning was spent learning more advanced spells. Much to both Anisa and Pebor’s surprise my skills improved substantially overnight. In the afternoon, and as my last lesson, I had to best Pebor in a spar. I was restricted only to air magic, no energy spells, no other elements, and no vessels, to even the playing field. I would have to admit that it was a struggle to attack Pebor and dodge his attacks, I found my skills lacking but in the end, I bested him and got him to surrender after more than 45 minutes of fighting. “Marvelous!” Anisa exclaimed as I bested her apprentice, “Chris, you’ve certainly exceeded our expectations. You truly live up to your reputation.” She beamed. “I don’t know what you are talking about.” I said as I scratched the back of my head in humility. “Well… this is all we can teach you for the time being.” She said as she hugged me. Over the last 10 days in the Hall, I got close to both Master Anisa and Pebor. At one point I promised to visit their school in the Southern province and engage the other students of Air Magic under her tutelage. -- Leaving the Hall of Maktar, I felt invigorated but I still did not feel any sort of ‘click’ that might have signified my passing into the 4th level of ascension. “So how was it?” Patri asked as I entered his study. “Good… but I don’t feel any different. I’m not even sure if I unlocked the 4th key.” Patri gave me a once over then smirked, “All in good time, patience by boy. What is important now is that you’ve learned what you can and is now at least reasonably proficient in the ways of the wind.” “It’s been two days Patri… any updates on the demons?” Patri’s overall demeanor became serious then beckoned me to sit with him. He took a deep breath then started, “It hasn’t been good, things deteriorated so quickly.” “Huh?!” I asked in surprise. I took a deep breath of my own then asked “What do you mean?” “The skirmishes in Tobruk in Libya drew the attention of several countries, it forced Turkey and Egypt to send opposing ground forces in the area. Both countries are on the verge of open conflict. The situation worsened in Ibb in Yemen as well, the Saudis sent more than 10,000 troops over the border several hours ago to stabilize the situation. The Iranians are unhappy with Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen and they are now threatening war with Saudi Arabia.” “What the…” I huffed in disbelief. “That’s not all…” “How could it get any worse?” I asked. “Early this morning, the WHO announced the discovery of a new disease originating in Chennai, India. The WHO has uncovered a massive cover-up by the Indian Government and what even makes it even worse is that the virus has spread internationally, 4 hours ago, Dubai confirmed its first case of the virus. People are calling it the Blood Pox.” “The Blood Pox?” I asked curious of the virus’ name. “It causes high fever and flu like symptoms in the first few days of the disease, then after a week the person would appear to have recovered but two days later blisters and lesions would start forming all over the body, a day after the blisters appear, the victim starts vomiting blood, and bleeding out from the blisters, It has a 30% mortality rate, most die from severe blood loss. It’s highly contagious too, the cover-up in India is even worse than what we initially thought. 5,000 people from across Chennai and its surrounding towns and villages have already caught the disease, more than 1,500 people have already died.” “Why didn’t you pull me out of the Hall of Maktar?” I asked in frustration, I did not like how things went while I was out. “Your training takes precedence Chris. I know the news is upsetting but at this point we are not really in the position to intervene anyway. We haven’t located the demon general or generals for that matter. All we know is dark magic is being used to aggravate the situation but there have been no sightings of demons and even anamis. Whoever is behind this is one sneaky general.” Patri calmly said. “Any major decision or movement from the alliance?” I asked. “The alliance has gathered a strike force of 5,000 in New York, 3,000 in London, and 3,000 in Rome. Talks with the Canadians and Europeans have progressed as well, I am sure Etalos will further brief you once you return to Greensburg.” Patri then gave out an amused huff and added “That Chief of Staff of yours is one feisty and skilled elf, he basically stared down a member of the European delegation when one of them tried to stall further progress of the talks. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, he’s like his boss after all.” Patri smirked at me. -- I returned to Greensburg in haste and was greeted by Etalos and Nomir as I got out of the portal room. “Chris!” they exclaimed at the same time. Etalos hugged me with urgency, the tension clear with the way he hugged me. I returned his hug and said “I talked with Patri, I guess I missed out on a lot of stuff huh?” “It’s been bad, Chris… but now at least you are back.” He smiled at me as he pulled away from our hug. “So care to get me up to speed?” I asked. Etalos smiled at me then proudly replied, “I have prepared a dossier for your reference. Don’t worry, I have highlighted the key points.” “You’re the best, Etalos!” “Come on now mister, you have 400 pages to read and the next alliance meeting is in 3 hours!” Etalos said as he pulled me towards my study. -- The alliance meeting lasted for more than 5 hours, the mood in the meeting clearly had an edge to it, everyone seemed to be in anxious state as the situation across the three countries have deteriorated rapidly in the last 48 hours. One piece of good news though was that the Canadian Prime Minister and European Union Commission are both expected to approve their entry to the alliance within the next 36 hours. American participation, however is still under review by the bicameral congressional committee on non-human relations. It was already 2am when the meeting ended, I found myself in deep thought, alone in the backyard. I had a lot of things to ponder on, so much has happened while I was gone and my thoughts were racing in lightning speed. Patri was right, it is too early for us to intervene, and there is so much we don’t know about the enemy. Rushing into a fight with the demons at this point will be suicidal. While I was mulling things over, I felt a heavy shift in the air, no, not just the air but the flow itself. Then I felt a powerful presence join me. I looked straight ahead and saw a faint distortion in the moonlight. Then in a flash of bright light, the silhouette of a shining individual made itself known. For a brief moment images and instructions flooded my head. It was clear that this person or being was the same entity that pointed me towards the 4th key while I was in the Planes of Ascension. The moment I was able to collect my thoughts, I was alone again. I was sure of what happened but it happened so fast that it could have easily all occurred in a split second. Despite being slightly confused and overwhelmed by what had just transpired, I knew what I needed to do to unlock the fourth key. I tapped into the ocean of energy deep within me and transported myself to the Planes of Ascension. I found myself in the middle of a field of purple grass. Bright sunshine warming the air around me. I centered myself, took deep breaths, and entered a trancelike state. I cast a powerful Fire based Magnus spell and formed a fire ball with it. Then encased the fire ball with a Magnus based Earth spell, followed by water, then air. I struggled casting an Air based Magnus spell but was able to pull it off. I then pumped more energy in the elemental ball of Magnus energy in front of me and fused the four Magnus spells into one. Keeping the form of the highly energetic ball was difficult but I held on and prevented the spell from destabilizing, slowly I pulled the ball of elemental energy into myself and pushed it into my chest. I groaned as waves of power flooded my body. I felt my body’s temperature fluctuate, I also felt waves of pressure consume my form. I didn’t know how long it took but after a period of agony and deep pain, the moment I opened my eyes, I found myself flowing in the colors of the four elements, bright veins of red, blue, yellow, and green crisscrossed my body. I examined myself, feeling something has shifted within me, I felt more powerful than ever before. To test my theory out, I flicked finger across the field and instantly a wall of flame traced the direction of my finger. I blew air from my mouth and generated a powerful whirlwind. I stomped my feet on the ground and sent a deep gash across the field. I clapped both hands together and made all the grass within a hundred feet freeze. I willed the elements to stop and released a pulse of energy from my body, and just like that whatever damage I may have caused were all instantly repaired. I looked at my hands and saw tremendous potential with the powers I have unlocked within myself. I could only hope this is enough for what is to come.
  3. Chapter 114 – Song of Soul The humans were in a daze during the walk back to the building. My display of power with King Ethnar was too much for them to handle. I could only assume how their brains were working in overdrive to rationalize and comprehend everything they’ve seen. The group remained silent as we settled back in the conference room. King Ethnar joined us for the second half of the meeting. Despite the initial shock from our magical battle, the Canadians and Europeans were excited to be part of the alliance while the Americans seemed to have harder time deciding on a course of action. General Robertson and Senator Reeves were on board while Congressman Taylor, despite his surprise and recognition of our magical prowess was insisting further congressional oversight and discussion. Regardless of our demonstration, the congressman clearly chose to stick with his beliefs and preconceived notions regarding other races. “You’re simply impossible,” Senator Reeves seethed at Congressman Taylor. The senator was completely livid with the congressman’s repeated attempts to block American agreement with the elves. “I’m just doing my job, I am a congressman of the United States! I insist on further congressional discussion. The president, vice-president, and secretaries of defense and homeland obviously need to have an opinion on this matter before we move forward.” Congressman Taylor barked, firmly standing his ground. “I know that, we’re not here to make a decision, we are here to listen to the WCC, VHC, and the elves and make a recommendation. General Robertson and I are in agreement to recommend American involvement in the alliance,” Senator Reeves replied. “We have the greatest military in the world, we can do this alone, we don’t need their help,” the congressman insisted. The dirty look he shot our delegation was not easy to miss. “That’s not for you to decide and goodness congressman, have you seen what the demons did to Detroit and Fort Smith? There are 7 more generals out there, the VHC and WCC are adamant that the elves hold a crucial position in the alliance, and with the earlier display of magic, I don’t see why you can’t understand that the elves are important, we need them,” General Robertson added. “Let’s not discuss this in front of them, this is a matter of national security,” The congressman retorted. The Canadians and Europeans were confused with the American response while the Reza, Luca and August were shaking their heads in sheer disappointment. “We have helped before, and we will help again, however we will not force this alliance upon you.” King Ethnar stoically replied. “When you have finalized your decision, you may reach out to Prince Christopher, he is the elvish ambassador to Earth,” my uncle added. Prince Havar smirked, then said, “I think we’re better off discussing the rest of this in another location, clearly the Americans are not interested.” “You’re wrong, we are, just give us some time,” Senator Reeves replied in an attempt to put off an elvish withdrawal from coming to terms with the United States. “I stand with the senator, please do not let the grumblings of a lone congressman derail this entire process,” General Robertson added, his voice firm and calm at the same time, yet there was a slight edge in his behavior that told me he was alarmed at the prospect of having to face the demons alone. “You take your time, however remember, the demons are out there and they don’t care about your timeline. You don’t get to decide when or where they’ll attack next,” I added. My voice measured, cool, and calculated. I was dead serious about the elves pulling back the next time the demons showed up, if this is how we’ll be treated then I think they should get a taste of their own medicine. In my head I was commiserating with both General Robertson and Senator Reeves but the congressman they’re with is just simply impossible to work with, if he’s going to block this alliance then they either replace him or they get the government and policies they deserve, I won’t stand any further insult from someone who clearly does not know what he is talking about. “Come, let’s all go, we can continue this somewhere else. I think we’ve overstayed our welcome here,” Yal said to Reza, Luca, August, and the non-Americans. “We’re going to regret this,” Senator Reeves shook his head in disappointment and giving Congressman Taylor a very pointed glare. “Hmph, good riddance, I have the ears of the president, if I tell him to block this alliance, he will do so, American involvement in this alliance is as good as dead,” Congressman Reeves smirked at us, then he added, “I have no interest working with non-humans, only god knows what filth they carry.” That’s it, I know I’m ambassador but this person is just vile. “You pompous prick! Who do you think you are?!” I snarled as I stood from my seat. I lifted my hand and directed it towards the congressman. The proud look on his face disappeared the moment my powers seized control of his body. Every muscle, and every fiber of his being was now under my control. I unceremoniously lifted him away from his seat and threw him against the wall. I held him in place several feet above the ground with his back straining against the concrete. The air started to hiss as my aura consumed the room. “I am a congressman of the …” Representative Taylor started to say but was not able to finish as I literally stopped his vocal cords from moving. There was now a faint purple glow in the room and I’m sure it came from my eyes. “I don’t care whether you’re a congressman or not. I don’t care whether you’re from a very reliable district. Remember this, and remember this clearly, I wouldn’t even break a sweat smiting you away from existence, you are insignificant, you are nothing but a fly in the greater scheme of things, and your arrogance is putting your citizens in danger. I could end you right here… right now,” I snarled while tightening the air around him, the room was overflowing with energy. “You may get away with your life if I choose to let you live, but remember this, your career in politics is over, don’t you dare underestimate my powers. With a mere whisper from me, even your most ardent supporters will abandon you, I can make the reddest state bleed blue and bluest bleed red, to hell, I can make any district bleed whatever color I wish it to, consider this your final warning, now get away from here and never show your ugly face to us ever again!” I then let go of the congressman, he immediately slumped on the ground, out of breath, and before I forget, let me tell you he pissed his pants. “Now ladies, and gentlemen, I think we have an alliance to sort out,” I spoke again, still angry yet with a more collected voice towards the other humans in the room including the general and senator. We left the congressman to wallow in misery and made our way to another conference room. For the next two hours a draft agreement on the entry of the humans was made. The Canadians and Europeans were to recommend that their governments join the alliance while General Robertson and Senator Reeves made a promise to sideline Congressman Taylor and make sure the Americans join the alliance. Just before sunset we returned to Greensburg. August switched planes from Luca’s to mine as he wanted to visit Leo. Gramps also decided to fly with us instead of going back to the realm. He said he missed flying and wanted to see the Earth again from above. -- “I seriously thought you were going to kill the congressman,” August whispered to me while the plane made its way to cruising altitude. “I thought so too, it scared me how easy it was to cross that line,” I replied. “Well, the man is a prick, if you did not put his ego in check I’m sure one of us would have,” August replied smirking at me. “Really?” I asked in disbelief. “Yeah, I was about to punch the guy and I’m sure Reza and Luca were barely holding it. I’m certain the other elves were just about to zap the guy or something,” August laughed. “That’s not funny… I snapped, and I shouldn’t have, I’m ambassador for crying out loud.” “Don’t worry about it Chris, you’ve shown great resolve and patience, that guy deserved what he got.” “I agree with August, Chris, that congressman had it coming,” Yal added from behind us. Everybody seemed to settle down and took their time for some rest after the long day we had. I joined gramps and sat beside him. “Glad you could join me,” Gramps smiled at me. “What a day huh?” I asked “Sure is, but nothing we elves couldn’t handle, am I right?” Gramps grinned at me. “Right…” I smiled back. “It’s good to have the humans on our side, makes it easier for us to operate.” “You’re absolutely right gramps.” “So… about that spar earlier…” gramps started. “That was awesome gramps. I’m happy you’ve showed me your vessel. That trident of yours is wicked.” “Well, I may be old but I would like to believe that I still have a few tricks up my sleeve.” “Oh come on, you’re what? Just a thousand years old right!?” I teased, “Seriously though, you’re very powerful gramps, and I haven’t even beaten you yet.” “That’s because your powers are holding you back. Don’t tell me you’ve defeated the demons with just the powers you’ve used on me.” King Ethnar raised his eyebrows at me. I didn’t reply. King Ethnar then added with a knowing chuckle, “Thought as much. Okay, let’s have another spar when you visit the realm again. I’ll be waiting for you in the palace. I have another trick to show you,” Gramps added after giving me a sly grin. “What are you going to show me? Is this a new move? Some powerful spell?” I eagerly asked. The prospect of gramps showing me more moves certainly piqued my interest. I absolutely can’t wait to see what gramps had in store for me. Although I am still nervous whenever I train with my great grandfather, a part of me is also excited as training with gramps is never a dull moment. -- The rest of the flight back to Virginia was uneventful. Most of us simply took the flight as an opportunity to rest. While everyone was asleep I asked Arnos, our flight attendant slash Kalron’s spy, how his mission went. “It went good. I was able to install several monitoring devices in the base.” “How were you able to do that?” I curiously asked. Arnos proudly replied, “I used a simple suggestion spell and asked a soldier to give me a tour of the complex. The devices are very powerful and could do deep penetrating scans of the base and intercept encrypted communications. Deputy Minister Kalron and his team should be able to start the scanning process in a few hours.” “Woah, that’s awesome and scary at the same time.” “Anything for the protection of the realm,” Arnos replied. Victor and Leo were in the house when we arrived. Victor was happy to see me again and Leo was all over August when he saw him. I never thought the day would come that I would see Leo openly kissing a man in front of me, but here I am ogling my best friend as he ravaged the stud of a man that August is. I can’t blame Leo, August is fucking hot. Victor gave me a gentle poke and his teasing expression told me he knew I was hot and bothered. “I think you’re horny,” Victor teased me as he spoke to me mind to mind. “Maybe…” I teased in reply. “We have to do something about that,” Victor grinned. My internal conversation with Victor was interrupted when King Ethnar approached us after his conversation with dad ended. I helped my boyfriend get acquainted with my great grandfather and despite Victor’s initial nervousness around King Ethnar, both guys totally hit it off. “Remember Victor, if ZoHal gives you a hard time, I’m on your side. I will not let my son bully my future great grandson-in law.” Gramps said to Victor. “Uhm… thanks,” Victor replied. “Victor, I’m on your side, when you decide to ask for the family’s blessing, I’m on your side!” Gramps cheerfully added as he patted Victor’s shoulders. I stayed silent in their exchange was gramps seriously suggesting that Victor and I get married?! Well, it’s something I’ve thought of but not this soon! Gramps, Prince Rehanmir, Yal, and Prince Havar returned to the realm using the portal just before midnight. August decided to sleep in our spare room where Leo eagerly joined him. Victor slept in my too where he scratched my itch for some hot sex. Gosh am I a horny guy or what? -- I spent the following morning in the tower to read more books. I learned several more spells and advanced techniques in Tashik method or the older soul method of using and manipulating magic. Despite encountering new spells and techniques, nothing out of the ordinary or close to a revelation regarding my status as an ascended came to pass. I think the tower was not in a hurry to reveal more on that matter. I returned home and spent lunch with Etalos, Kalron, and Nomir. “I heard a certain congressman gave you a hard time yesterday,” Etalos said. “Yeah, but don’t worry about it, I handled it.” I replied slightly embarrassed of my outburst from the day before. “What did you do?” “Well… let’s just say I made him piss his pants,” I sniggered. “Excuse me?!” Etalos replied in shock. “From what I’ve heard… you scared the living daylight out of the guy,” Kalron added. “You can say that again,” I giggled. “Woah… “ Etalos said. “Never cross the Platinum Prince, everyone should know that by now,” Nomir said. “Your’e absolutely right.” Kalron smiled and laughed a little as the mental image of a pained and confused congressman entered his head. “What are your plans this afternoon?” Etalos asked, changing the topic. “Hmm… not sure but maybe we could go to the Diner or Martin’s café for some food.” “Both sound good, I can’t decide,” Etalos replied as he licked his lips, already thinking of eating more food. “Let’s just see how it goes,” I said in return. -- I went to realm early in the evening. With the 12 hour time difference, it was breakfast time and gladly joined Gramps, Patri, Matra, and my two uncles for breakfast. We spent several minutes talking about anything under the sun. Then Uncle Selvenus announced a bombshell. “I have a date tomorrow,” he said just above a whisper. Silence. “Son… what did you just say?” Patri asked with a mixture of emotions, though I could hear a hint of pride, excitement and curiosity from him. “Oh my, finally about time, you haven’t dated anyone in two decades!” Prince Rehanmir exclaimed. “Last time I checked, you haven’t dated anyone for just as long,” Uncle Selvenus smugly replied. “Fair enough, but oh my, my younger brother is dating again!” “Who is the lucky woman?” Matra asked. “When do we get to meet her?” King Ethnar asked. “Actually it’s a guy…” My uncle replied. “Really? Hmm… this one I have to meet. You haven’t dated a guy since Selekov,” Patri added with no hint of judgment. One thing about elves is most have bisexual tendencies and at least 15% of the population is gay, explaining why the community is so receptive of same sex couples. “Oh my uncle, this is so nice… I’m so happy for you. You have to tell me the details later on!” I added, genuinely happy and excited for my uncle. “Yeah… sure,” My uncle replied with a shy look which I’ve rarely ever seen him do. “In time… I will have to talk to him about it first,” he added. “Of course!” I replied. After breakfast, Etalos joined me to deal with some paper work in my office in the palace. Later, it was time for me to spar with gramps. “Glad you could make it,” gramps said as I joined him in an outdoor training field. The ground was made of a solid slab of circular rock at least 3 feet thick and 500 feet across. Patri, Yal, and the High Mage, Zenfar were in a viewing area several feet from the edge. “So what is this you’re going to show me?” I asked King Ethnar. “Patience, though I promise you will be surprised,” gramps teased. “Can’t wait,” I grinned. We took our position in the middle of the large stage. King Ethnar did not wait for me to settle and immediately conjured his trident and shot a powerful energy blast at me. Good thing I was quick enough to dodge it. I dodged blast after blast but was caught off guard when gramps shot multiple energy beams at the same time. A large explosion sent me flying several feet away, my reflexes adjusted and I was able to land on both feet. The arena was filled with dust and smoke and visibility was low. I couldn’t see King Ethnar. I closed my eyes and allowed my aura to fill the field. Despite his attempts to diminish his energy signature, it was easy for me to find my opponent and shot a powerful 15-layer water based Magnus Spell in his direction. My Magnus Spell was intercepted by a powerful beam of light from my great grandfather’s trident but it was clear he struggled to deflect my attack. “Nice shot,” gramps said. “I have more,” I retorted as I directed two 12-layered fire based Magnus Spells towards him. King Ethnar spun his trident in like a turbine and dredged the rocks underneath him turning them into fine sand. He then poured energy into each grain of sand and directed them towards my fire attack. The fire was hot enough to turn sand to glass and gramps was forced to jump away. He barely managed to escape the wrath of the attack as the resulting explosion lead to a smoldering crater several feet deep and wide. I didn’t give gramps a chance to recover and cast multiple spells, making three 8 feet tall golems. Each made of the elements I’ve already learned. The three golems produced large energy balls from their own element and threw them towards gramps. Gramps threw his trident in the air and it flew around the arena, fending off each attack from the golems. Gramps then shot me a knowing grin and remarked, “Show’s not over, son.” Then he waved his hand in the air and I saw a small red crystal in his hand. “What’s that?” I asked. “You’ll know soon enough,” gramps smirked in reply. My golems crumbled from the repeated attacks from the trident which then returned to the hands of gramps. Then the older king crushed the red crystal with his bare hands and I immediately felt a familiar energy signature that seemed out of place. I only realized what was happening just in time for King Ethnar’s trident to glow red which was now directed towards me, then a second later, a powerful fire spell was flying towards me. “How on Earth are you able to cast fire spells?!” I shouted as I dodged the attack. King Ethnar grinned at me then replied, “You may be the only one that has the innate ability to learn other elements but these crystals, spell crystals are able to store magic within them, and let’s just say I borrowed some fire magic from your Patri.” I then shot Patri a dirty look from afar which only earned me a playful shrug from my grandfather. “This is cheating,” I grumbled. “If this is cheating then what do you call your abilities?” King Ethnar retorted. As much as I would have liked to give a snide remark, he indeed had a point. “What now?” I asked. “We continue to fight,” Gramps replied then he swung his flaming trident around the air and conjured 8 fire balls and launched them towards me. I immediately produced 8 water balls of my own and intercepted each of gramps’ fire balls. The explosions that ensued from the contact between the fire and water balls resulted to mist shrouding the entire field. Fully aware of gramps’ location, I stomped my right foot on the ground and sent a large wave of rock towards gramps but he was able to stop my attack by hitting the ground with his trident and my wave of rock immediately collapsed and stopped in its tracks. By now the fire magic King Ethnar borrowed has dissipated. “Time’s up huh?” I teased, hopeful that I have now regained the edge. “Not just yet,” King Ethnar replied as he pulled out a yellow crystal and crushed it. “Fuck…” I muttered as I realized the older king has now borrowed some air magic. Gramps sent a powerful gust of wind towards me, I stood my ground but it appears the yellow crystal harbored a lot of energy as the gust was unrelenting. Barely standing, I connected with my tattoos and called for the powers of the Ring of Eyaha and managed to boost my energy level. King Ethnar sent powerful 4 multiple small tornadoes towards me but my recent energy refill gave me the strength and speed to escape and cast magnus spells to destroy each tornado. “You are getting better at this,” Gramps said. “I guess I am,” I retorted. I concentrated on my connection with my tattoos and willed the Chains of Haldruin to materialize. I threw the chains in the air and with my near limitless pool of energy, it seemed that its length was endless. The chains flew around the arena and formed a web of highly energized metal, It reached a point where most of the arena was covered by the chains, a small mistake on the part of King Ethnar will lead to his capture. “Seems like I’m not the only one with a trick up his sleeve,” Gramps countered. “What’s the fun if that was the only case,” I replied then willed the chains to move and gramps was fast enough to dodge the chains. King Ethnar moved fast yet in such a graceful manner that it appeared he was dancing in the air. He jumped, flew, spun, and more, he was using whatever remained of his borrowed air magic to make it easier for him to jump in the air and he used his own pool of energy to reinforce his agility. King Ethnar formed a large energy ball in his hand formed a 10-layered Magnus Spell and threw it at me. However, the air space in the arena was already filled with my chains thus his spell failed to hit me and reached the chains instead. “You won’t be able to hit me again,” I proudly said then added, “My chains are all over the place.” “Who said about me intending to hit you?” Gramps smirked. Then I realized that the Magnus Spell was powerful enough that it slowed down the chains. He then found it easier to move across the field and dashed towards me. I was alarmed by the sudden turn of events so I sent a large wall of flame against gramps which was met by gramps’ own wall of rock. “Not bad,” Gramps said just as the dust settled. The Chains of Haldruin have now started to recover and I pumped more energy into them, this gave me then edge as King Ethnar was now preoccupied with avoiding them. The air vibrated from the large amount of energy the chains were releasing, it was as if a bright golden dragon was dancing across the heavily damaged arena. The older king did his best to avoid the chains but he couldn’t help but get hit every now and then. Gramps was jumping and running around the field as he avoided capture from the wild and near frantic dancing chains. I did not just watch gramps try to escape the chains, I also shot several powerful water and fire spells to distract or immobilize him. Frustrated with his lack of progress, King Ethnar held firm to his trident and released a massive energy explosion. This gave him the chance to momentarily immobilize the chains and made a mad dash towards me. Gramps generated a powerful Magnus Spell from his trident and directed it at me. I fought back with a Magnus Spell of my own. The resulting explosion led to a deep and smoking crater in the middle of the field. I was about to launch a powerful 25-layer Magnus Spell when I heard Patri yell, “Time’s up!” “Huh?” I asked as I looked back at Patri. “You both have been at it for an hour now, let’s call this a draw.” King Ethnar shot me a proud look then ask, “How about it? Tie?” I smirked at him and replied, “Tie.” Walking back to the palace, I started asking some questions, “What were those crystals? I never saw them before.” “Those were spell crystals. They allow us to store spells and energy. They are hard to manipulate thus only high level golds and platinums are able to use them. It’s the first time you’ve seen them because they are very rare. The realm is still in the process of studying their properties and potential for further use in magic,” King Ethnar replied. “So you thought it was best to test them at me huh?” Patri smiled from the side while gramps replied, “Yes. Who else is in a better position to be at the receiving end of multiple elemental attacks? You have repeatedly proven yourself as someone able to fend off assaults from powerful and variably skilled opponents.” “The spell crystals hold tremendous potential Your Highness, our people’s progress in utilizing and understanding them has been slow, I think it is now time that we accelerate our research into spell crystals,” High Mage Zenfar added. “There are several research institutes covering the research of spell crystals however the ones that have recorded the most progress are the ones in the Capital and Katar,” Patri added. “Oh I see…” I replied as I thought of the potential commercial and military use of spell crystals. -- When I returned home, I was tired enough that I immediately fell asleep, too tired to even dream of anything. Early in the morning, I was greeted by a doe-eyed Victor who was on top of me, supporting himself with his hands on both my sides. “Good morning, Victor…” I grumbled as I started to wake. “Happy Valentine’s Day!” Victor greeted as he gave me a deep and sensual kiss. I tried to return the greeting but talking is quite a difficult task especially if someone is trying to eat your tonsils out. Damn Victor can be such a hard kisser if he wants to, almost animalistic, which is something that definitely turns me on. “Happy Valentine’s Day,” I managed to reply after our kiss ended. Then I added, “So where’s my surprise?” “You’ll see,” Victor replied with a devilish grin. “I’m looking forward to it,” I smiled at him. “How about mine?” Victor pouted. “You better wait for it too, mister!” Victor and I ate breakfast with Kalron, Nomir, and Etalos. Dad was already out of the house, I asked the others where dad went, I noticed that they all deflected and refused to directly answer the question. After breakfast, Victor and I went to Martin’s Café for some down time, we only had a little bit of food and mainly took our time at the café as an opportunity to catch up with the vampire brothers Martin and Matteo. Lunch was then spent at Victor’s place where we ate a sumptuous spread with Henry, Mark and Troy. I repeatedly complimented the human members of Victor’s household for their amazing job with the food, Mark and Troy simply did a good job with cooking everything. Henry seemed to have started to settle in his position as the OIC of Virginia. Based on what I’ve heard from Victor, Patrick seems to be doing better as the new Governor of District 4. “So when is August moving here?” I curiously asked. I knew it was soon but I haven’t heard of a definite date. Victor and Henry exchanged glances then Victor replied, “Don’t tell Leo yet, August wants it as a surprise but our werewolf friend and his pack will be moving to Greensburg the day after tomorrow.” “Wow. That’s amazing! Leo will be thrilled!” I enthusiastically replied. “Yes, definitely, Leo will surely be happy.” Henry added. “Would be nice to finally have August nearby,” I remarked. “Indeed, Greensburg despite being the quaint town that it is, has now become a major center of power for the supernatural races.” Henry said. “I couldn’t agree more,” Victor added. “Hmm… that seems to be the case, and with this development we have to continue strengthening the security measures around town. We can’t have the demons or the Blood Army catch us off guard.” “I believe Kalron is already coordinating the matter with Stratos and the Werewolves,” Victor replied. “If we could only have Reza, Konrad, and Luca move here too, that would be even better!” I added. “I don’t think that would be happening soon but I agree, we should meet them more often,” Victor said just after he finished taking a sip of his NuBlood. -- Late in the afternoon Victor brought me back home and immediately pulled me towards the portal to the realm. “Where are we going?” I asked Victor. “It’s time for your surprise,” Victor grinned as he replied. “Ohh.” “Come on.” “Okay,” I quietly replied, how on earth is Victor able to pull off a surprise in the realm. Grr… I think Etalos and my family had something to do with this. It was still dark in the realm when we arrived. I was quite surprised to realize that Victor knew his way around the palace. After several minutes of walking, we arrived in a discreet driveway and Victor asked me to jump in the car. “Who’s driving?” I asked. “Me…” Victor replied as he went for the driver’s side. “Huh?” “Just get in,” he smiled at me. “Okay…” We were now both wearing elvish attires with me in white and gold and Victor in blue and white. It took Victor several minutes to reach the palace gates given the sheer size of the palace complex. The guards on the gate were quite surprised to find us driving around so early in the morning but gave us clearance to leave anyway. Victor did not only know his way around the palace but it seems he knew his way around the city too! I’m the elf here and here I am outsmarted by a vampire in navigating my very own city! I couldn’t help but look at Victor in disbelief as he navigated the near empty streets of the capital. “How the hell do you know where you’re going?” I asked. Victor winked at me, “It’s a secret,” “You’re full of surprises,” I grumbled as I crossed my arms. Victor amused, replied, “that’s the point,” Half an hour later we reached the edge of the city and the sky was now turning pink and orange as the sun started to rise. We then reached a small hill and Victor took a small road to the top. We got off the car where the road ended and all I could see was grass and neatly trimmed shrubs and bushes everywhere. The large amount of flowers of varying colors did not escape my attention. “This place is beautiful,” I remarked, I took a moment for myself to enjoy the sight and fragrance around me. We walked for 5 minutes to reach the summit and what greeted me was an impressive view of the city. I could see most of the capital from our vantage point, I could see the palace, the Hall of Haldruin, and the countless buildings and houses that dotted the skyline of the capital. I did not even notice it but Victor pulled out a basket out of nowhere and prepared a picnic for us. “It’s just about time,” Victor remarked as he put his right hand on my face and directed my gaze towards the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen. For a brief moment, the rays of the elvish sun bathed the realm’s sky in kaleidoscope of colors before a beautiful and enchanting wave of warm orange and pinkish light swept the expanse of the elvish morning sky. I’ve been visiting the realm for too long but I’ve never witness the sun rise above it. “Victor… this is beautiful,” I said almost speechless and at a loss for words to describe the feelings that consumed me. “Just enjoy it,” Victor replied as he gently kissed me on my left cheek. I basked in the glory of the morning sun then Victor pulled me out of my reverie by pulling out a necklace made of the blackest metal I’ve ever seen. It had a small spherical ornament made of gold but aside from that, all I could notice was the intricate weaving of the three thin metal strings. Victor put it on me and then pulled another one out and put it on himself. “I am not asking you to marry me just yet, but what I am asking you Prince Christopher of the House of Haldruin is to accept me as your partner in life, I love you Chris,” Victor said with misty eyes as he pulled me in for the gentlest kiss he has ever given me. It was warm, slow, and full of love. “Oh Victor, I love you with all my heart,” was my only reply as I fought off my own tears of joy. I took a moment to compose myself then briefly smiled at my boyfriend, “My turn,” “What is it?” Victor asked, surprised that I also had something for him. I stood up while Victor remained seated on the grass. With a slight tug on my magic, I willed for the Book of Songs to appear. “Chris… what are you doing?” Victor asked slightly worried as he recognized the Book of Songs in my hands. “Nothing scary, just something you’ll never forget,” I assured him. I stayed silent for several seconds as I gathered a large amount of energy. The air started to hum as the energy and magic continued to accumulate. Then I spoke, “7thSong of Life verses 1 to 11,” then a soft melody of string instruments consumed the entirety of the capital. It was a gentle and soothing music that reached into the depths of anyone who heard it. Bright sparkles started to appear not just all over the hill but around the city too, it was as if a large glitter bomb exploded and consumed the entire city. Then I added a twist of my own, it is something I’ve been experimenting with but thought it was about time to test it out, a new song, solely composed by myself, “1st Song of Soul verses 1 to 6,” The Song of Life continued to play in the background but my newly composed song took center stage and an even more tranquil yet powerful melody that was highly reminiscent to that of a harp and flute flooded the entire city with an invigorating energy that reached the soul of every living being. The Song was calming and reassuring. To my understanding, the song spoke to the depths of an individual, the song was created to reassure them that all will be well. I then twisted the invisible strings of the flow around us, and redirected most of its energy towards Victor and myself. Honestly I was quite nervous but I chose to believe the imagery and voices that I’ve been hearing and seeing in momentary glimpses of a higher plane in my dreams that told and showed me to not only ascend but accept and carve the flow as I wish. As a third ascended I had a higher level of resonance with the flow and have the ability shape it in a small scale similar to what I am doing right now. The energy of the flow enveloped me and my boyfriend, at this point I knew he felt the power of the flow and with the Song of Soul I conveyed to Victor my love for him in a manner that could only be described as not only intimate but all consuming. What I could not put in words, I spoke to Victor through my soul. Not only were my feelings conveyed to Victor but his feelings to me flowed the same way as well, I came to an understanding that Victor’s love for me was unconditional and never ending. When the song ended Victor and I were in tears as at that point he truly understood what I felt for him, in that moment we both understood how we felt for one another in the deepest manner possible. Victor then looked at his left wrist which had a faint bracelet like marking, they are ancient elvish characters that was a mantra dedicated to one’s soul mate. I showed him my wrist which bore the same marks. The characters slowly melted into our skin, and when they vanished, I said, “Victor Meyer, I Christopher Stewart Rogers beyn Haldruin declare myself as your soul mate, our love for each other is eternal, and we shall be together forever,” I grabbed Victor and purposefully pressed my lips against his. No engagement rings were exchanged but at that moment I knew, Victor and I were going to be together, forever, I will fight tooth and nail to keep it that way.
  4. Chapter 113 – Meet the Humans I woke up at around 8am and saw cloudy skies, it was snowing outside. I yawned and stretched as I made my way to the toilet. I peered through the window after having relieved myself and hoped the weather would clear up. The meeting with the US, Canada, and EU representatives was early tomorrow morning. Uncle Rehanmir, Yal, and Prince Havar will be joining me in meeting the humans at a secret military base somewhere in Arizona. The four of us will meet Luca, Reza, and August there, who are already discussing preliminary matters with the Canadians and Europeans, most likely in the same hotel where the three-way alliance was confirmed. The Americans took their time coming to a decision on whether to join the talks with the VHC and WCC, thus the meeting tomorrow. Reza thought tomorrow’s meeting would be a good opportunity for us to announce the return of the elves. With the promise of the existence of a powerful potential ally, the US military gave clearance for our aircraft to land at the airbase tomorrow, paving the way for us to attend the conference. Breakfast was quick and rather uneventful, it seemed that everyone at home was busy with something. I passed the time reviewing the last of my materials for matriculation, after this I should be all set for the exam at the end of the month. “I see you’ve finished reviewing,” dad said smiling at me as he entered my study. “Yeah, I guess I am.” “You’ll ace this, I’m sure of that. Then you’ll have several more months to decide where you want to continue your studies.” “About that…” I paused, then continued, “I am leaning toward continuing my studies in the realm. Stoker U is nice but they don’t have an elvish program and I think that’s what I need at this moment. I am sure Leo will be bummed to not have me there, but it’s not like I’m moving or he’s moving away anyway, and we’ve been best friends for the longest time even though I don’t go to his school so I think we’ll be fine.” “I am sure you both will be, and I hope you have already discussed this with your Patri?” “I have mentioned it but I haven’t talked to him about this in depth. I’ll bring this up with him soon.” “Okay, better talk to him about it, I’m sure he will have insights on this matter.” “Yes, he surely will.” “Anyway, lunch is ready,” dad said, grinning at me as he beckoned me to join him back in the dining room. -- “I am sorry I couldn’t join you in the meeting tomorrow,” Victor said with a hint of disappointment in his voice. “It’s okay. I understand, you have council matters to tend to, it’s really okay, don’t worry about it, August, Reza, and Luca will be there to help us through.” “But still,” Victor grumbled. “Victor, are you getting clingy now?” I teased my boyfriend. “Maybe,” Victor pouted in reply. “Oh boy, what have I done to you?!” I replied amused with how Victor is acting childish. “You’re 260 years old mister!” I teased. “I’ll miss you,” Victor pouted again. Then I caught on to the game he was playing, my darn boyfriend was fucking horny. Who am I to resist such a hot guy in heat?! I am only human… well half-human, hehe. After an hour long love-making, Victor whispered, “I am sure you’ll do fine tomorrow.” “Gosh Victor… you didn’t have to do all of that to get to fuck me! You know I’m always up for it,” I grinned at him. “But you’re so cute when you’re confused and flustered,” Victor teased me as he pinched my nose and kissed both my cheeks. “Geez mister… behave yourself,” I giggled as I kissed him. -- After dinner, I went to the realm for some last minute preparations for the meeting. I spent an hour talking with Patri, Prince Rehanmir, Prince Havar, and Yal. The tension in the room between Patri and Prince Havar was palpable, I was just happy they did not lock horns, and focused on the task at hand. During the meeting, Patri pointed out that it was essential for us to appear as a strong and respectable force, something the humans should not underestimate. It was also made clear, it is important that the humans get the impression that they had a lot to gain from an alliance, not only with the vampires and werewolves but with the elves too. While we were on the topic of my role as ambassador, I asked, “What if they don’t respect me? You know being a teenager and all?” Prince Havar huffed, “They don’t dare raise a word against you. Any disrespect towards a royal is disrespect to the entire realm, which is something I will not tolerate.” “Uncle… calm down.” Prince Rehanmir said. My uncle took a moment then added, “I agree with you, the humans should never disrespect the crown but Chris’ concerns are legitimate and it’s fair to assume the humans will have questions about his age, however, I believe responding with anger on that matter will not help us build a relationship with the humans.” “Havar, I warn you, do not do anything stupid,” Patri said glaring at his cousin. Prince Havar smirked, “Of course, I won’t do anything stupid, but I will not be held accountable for my actions if the humans cross a line.” “I appreciate your concern guys, but can we get back to the topic? I just wanted to know how to deal with the age issue,” I said, taking my time to look at the people in the room as if to ask for some advice. “Well, you are 18, there’s no denying that. You have matured a lot in the last few months, however it would be ludicrous for the humans to assume that you have centuries worth of wisdom. Just be yourself, you’ve handled it well with the VHC and WCC so far, and you’ve gained respect here in the realm as well, just show those humans the smart and strong man that you are,” Patri said to me. “I understand your concern Chris but in case someone gives you a hard time just because of your age, we will be there to support you. If anything, I am sure they’ll shut up the moment you give them a taste of your power.” My uncle added. “Well, I don’t want to come off as a muscle head,” I complained. “You are not a muscle head Chris, you are way more than that,” Patri said in a soft tone, the disappointment in his voice was clear, he did not want me talking myself down again. “Don’t worry Chris, if the VHC and WCC have no problems with you being the realm’s ambassador, then how could the humans complain? In the end, they are the ones that are late in this alliance, not us.” Yal said, he paused then continued, “With us leaving seclusion, it might appear that we are the newcomers in this alliance, with the vampires and werewolves already in place, the humans are the ones late to the party.” “Yal’s right, and also, it’s not as if we are talking to a single human organization, if one opts out there are others we can talk to. We don’t have to have all human organizations in this alliance. If one refuses to join, it’s their loss” Patri added. “Okay, okay, I see,” I replied starting to recover from my loss of confidence. I may not be as insecure as before, but I still do have my moments, I am just glad that I have my family and friends around me to remind me whenever I doubt myself. However, there are times I can’t help it, a few months ago I was an ordinary high school kid, the world I’m living in now is way different than the life I previously had. I guess, I’m still adjusting to all of this. Then for another hour or so we continued to discuss ideas on how to respond to questions the humans will have. We also took the time to review the power dynamics between the players involved, we read the files prepared by Kalron on the individuals and organizations attending the meeting. Before the meeting ended, Patri told me he had a surprise waiting for me at the airport in Richmond. I had an idea of what he was hinting at but I refuse to entertain such thoughts for the time being, I’m hoping what he had in mind is not what I believed it to be. Not my very own private jet please. While everyone was already leaving the room, Patri pulled me aside and told me to work something out with King Ethnar. All Patri said was, “If you’re concerned with the humans doubting your skills, then why don’t you give them a show?” After which he just winked at me and left the room. -- It was already late when I got back home, the meeting in the realm took longer than anticipated. However, after the thorough discussion we had, I felt more prepared for what was yet to come. I didn’t have the time to go to the tower so I did the next best thing and summoned the book of songs, I flipped several pages and purposefully avoided humming or singing this time around. I had no intention of accidentally destroying the house by growing a forest inside. Scanning the pages, I was left in awe with how much magical potential the book held. The power to create, destroy, to give life, and exact death, all in a single book. No one can deny that the Book of Songs is a potent weapon. As I flicked through the pages, I couldn’t help but ask, if all highly ascended beings had their own version of this book, coz the thought of a conflict between multiple users of the Book of Songs is something I wouldn’t want to think about. I shuddered at the imagery of songs being cast one after another in a battle field. If the humans had the nuclear bomb, we had the Book of Songs, one key difference though is that the Book of Songs is not all about death and destruction, it is a force of life and creation too. After glossing over several more pages, I decided to sleep for the long day ahead. -- Breakfast was early in the house, dad and Nomir were already eating when I entered the dining room. Etalos and Kalron weren’t far behind me. “So what time are you guys leaving?” Dad asked. “7:30, uncle, Yal, and Prince Havar should be here soon,” I replied. “Should we cook more food for them?” Nomir asked. “No, I talked to them about it last night, they’ll eat in the realm.” Several minutes after breakfast, the three elves arrived through the portal. They were all decked out in a similar fashion, tight fitting jackets, with white shirts underneath, paired with sleek pants. Red and gold for my uncle and Prince Havar while Yal wore his garb in blue and silver. I took time to introduce Prince Havar to my household, despite everyone’s reservations about Prince Havar. The introductions were brief enough to avoid any awkward moments. We all settled into two cars, with Kalron driving for Yal and Prince Havar in the first car, and Nomir for my uncle and I in the second. It only took us an hour to get to the all too familiar private jet terminal of the airport in Richmond. Oh boy, I guess I was right afterall, Patri got us a private jet. My uncle saw me rolling my eyes as we parked, and he said, “Chris, I know you have reservations about having your own private jet, but flying your own is not only convenient but it’s the safest and fastest way. This isn’t the realm, this world is bigger and the high speed rail connections are lacking here, and don’t worry about carbon emissions, our engineers retrofitted the plane to reduce its carbon footprint. It’s not carbon neutral but close.” Entering the well-appointed VIP reception area, we were immediately welcomed by Cole, the same guy that entertained us when we flew Luca’s plane back in December. I hugged Nomir and Etalos as they prepared to make their way back to Greensburg. The rest of us found our way to the plane. The jet in front of me was simply gorgeous, it was black with streaks of gold, my colors. The aircraft was slightly bigger than Luca’s G7500 and I took a minute to marvel at its beauty. “It’s an A220 with special interior and engineering alterations,” My uncle said winking at me, he then beckoned me to follow him into the plane. Inside the plane we were welcomed by Arnos, a male elf, who will be our attendant for the trip. Apparently Patri had him and the captains flown all the way from New York together with the plane. Arnos is beautiful, he had light brown hair, light green eyes, and had soft features, almost as cute and as sensual as Etalos’. He had a slender build and stood at around 5’7. “Good morning, your highnesses, and Master Yalekin,” Arnos greeted us with a light bow. As we entered to plane, to the left was a modern kitchen and meal preparation areas of some sort, beyond it was the crew resting area and the cockpit. The entire cabin had an earth colored motif of brown, black, and white, it had a minimalist and sophisticated yet warm and inviting effect to it. The main space of the aircraft was to the right, the first was a sitting area, consisting of 12 business class seats arranged in 4 rows. Two seats were on the left and 1 on the right. After the first zone, was a work/business space, it had a 6 feet long mahogany table, with a caramel colored divan on the right side and two swivel/adjustable seats on the left. This zone had two flat screen TVs mounted on the wooden paneling. The next zone was an entertainment space, with a large TV, two smaller divans and three adjustable seats, the next zone was a smaller sitting area consisting of 6 business class seats arranged in 2 rows, then the last zone was the master suite, which housed a queen sized bed, small tv, and a small desk and chair, beyond it was the master bathroom, with a shower, toilet, and changing area. Seeing the master suite, I missed Victor, I thought it was way overdue for us to renew our membership in the mile high club. After the quick tour of the plane we all decided to stay in the first zone for take-off. The flight to the military airbase in Arizona will take us around 4 hours, so we took the time to rest. Yal and my uncle were already both asleep not even 20 minutes after the plane reached cruising altitude. Prince Havar on the other hand seemed to be taking the time to enjoy the sights through the window. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?” Prince Havar said as he noticed me watching him. “Huh? What do you mean?” “This planet, it’s beautiful, despite everything the humans have put it through, the Earth remains resilient and beautiful.” “I agree, it is indeed beautiful,” I somberly replied. “You might not agree with my views, but this is what I’m fighting for. I am fighting for the future generations of our people, do you know how many times an elf born in the realm gets to visit earth?” “Honestly, no, I’m sorry.” “7 or 8 maximum, the excursion and immersion trips the government organizes is the only way our people get to visit this planet,” Havar chuckled, “not unless you work for one of our Earth operations, but other than that that’s it. With the negative energy building up here, the realm is already thinking of scaling back the program, imagine an entire people cut off from the place they were from,” Havar added as he gritted his teeth in frustration. “I understand how frustrating it must be for you,” I said. Havar looked me straight in the eye and said, “Do you? Do you really? Believe me Prince Christopher, I will do anything to have this planet back, I do not mind sharing it with the vampires and werewolves but the humans must go. They have proven time and time again, their sheer incapability to do what’s right, all they bring is destruction.” “Prince Havar… “I said in a warning tone. “I know you have grown quite fond of them, you grew up around them after all, that’s understandable, but believe me when I say this young prince, one way or another we will return to this planet, the realm is indeed majestic ... grand even, but imagine what we could do with this place, our people have made the mistake of secluding ourselves, hiding in our protected and veiled towns and villages thousands and hundreds of years ago, then we made an even graver mistake by fleeing our home. Our return to the affairs of Earth is only the first step in the elvish homecoming, which is why I supported the motion to re-engage the humans.” “I don’t know what to say,” I somberly replied. “Then don’t say anything,” he smiled at me. I then left Prince Havar with his own thoughts as I made myself comfortable in the master suite. After having a short nap, I joined my companions in the entertainment area as Arnos served us lunch. After lunch, I took the time to get to know Arnos more. Apparently Arnos is a bronze level elf working in a support function for Kalron’s operations in New York. Despite looking younger than me, Arnos is already 27. His mission is not only to be our attendant in this trip but according to him, Kalron has ordered him to use this visit as an opportunity to place surveillance devices in the military facility. Apparently Kalron was surprised to find, the air base we were headed to is not on his list of existing US military facilities. The fact that the humans have hidden the existence of this facility from the elvish surveillance network disturbed Yal and Kalron so it’s Arnos’ mission to lay the ground work for the realm’s infiltration of this and possibly more hidden military facilities. Several minutes later, the captain announced that we have started our descent. I made my way to my seat and looking out the window, I saw nothing but desert. A few minutes later we landed in a military air base that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. It had two 4,000 meter runways with several hangars and three small buildings. A small flight control tower could be seen several hundred feet away. Yal had an amused expression on his face as he scanned our surroundings, “I bet this place is new, our satellites should have spotted this if this place is at least 6 months old.” Before disembarking, we thanked the pilot and co-pilots, both of whom are elves as well. Arnos joined us, he would be posing as our assistant as he placed various monitoring devices throughout the base. Getting off the stairs we were greeted by a handsome Latino in a military uniform. Several feet behind him were 6 soldiers, all of whom were stoic, yet seemed to have their full attention on us. “I am Colonel Dominic Aguilar,” the handsome officer said as he offered his hand to each one of us, “I will be your escort to the meeting room,” he added. “So, the rest are already here?” My uncle asked. “Yes, the representatives of the VHC and WCC arrived an hour ago, the Canadians and Europeans arrived half an hour ago,” Col. Aguilar said as he pointed to three private jets, one of which was unmistakably Luca’s G7500, the other two most likely are from the Canadian and EU delegation. We were escorted in silence by Col. Aguilar to a two story building, while the 6 soldiers walked several feet behind us. I honestly did not know what to expect, but aside from Col. Aguilar’s warm demeanor, the reception has been far from eventful. Looking around, I noticed the place was mostly empty, aside from the occasional single or pair of soldiers we encountered or saw from the distance, the base was practically a ghost town, I couldn’t help but wonder what this base is for. It lacked energy, and the hustle and bustle expected of a military facility, something was clearly out of place. “I believe the representatives of the VHC and WCC are in this room,” Dominic said pointing to a non-descript door. “Okay, thank you, I said.” I knocked on the door, and I heard a voice asking us to come in. Inside were August, Luca, and Reza sitting on a large couch, the room was larger than expected but nothing special. I took the time to greet my friends then introduced them to Prince Havar. “Well, I must say they could work better with their hospitality,” Yal said. “I agree,” Reza chuckled. “Don’t worry though, I heard they treated the Canadians and Europeans the same way,” Luca added. “That Colonel seemed to be the only warm and cordial person around here,” August said. “Well at least they chose him to escort us,” my uncle chuckled. “So, when do we meet the humans?” Prince Havar groused. “I think they’re still talking amongst themselves, maybe in half an hour or so, give or take,” Reza calmly replied, unfazed by Prince Havar’s borderline petulant mood. “So we stick with the plan eh?” I asked. “Yes, we’ll handle the introductions, then you may continue from there,” August. “I really appreciate that you’re doing this for us,” I said to the non-elves in the room. “Chris, this is the least we could do, you and your people have already done so much in the past few weeks,” Luca said, then he smirked, “it also doesn’t hurt that we get to see you again, well, August here is moving to Greensburg but Reza and I are thousands of miles away, so we were overdue for a visit as well,” the handsome Italian man added, god, why did he have to wink and give lecherous smile, did Victor’s sire have to be so hot?! I was taken out of my reverie when Prince Havar chimed in, “It’s good to work with Vampires and Werewolves, the relationship between our races haven’t always been the best, but it was never bad and was always productive.” Then for the next fifteen minutes we discussed what August, Luca, and Reza have discussed with the Canadians and Europeans in their meeting yesterday. -- Our conversation was interrupted by a knock on the door, It was Col. Aguilar, he said, “I hope you are all fine, apologies for the delay, the others are ready now. I will wait for you here outside the door to direct you to the meeting place.” We finished the last bit of our conversation, then followed the thirty something man along the corridor. Entering a large conference room, I saw 7 people already in the room, one of them was in a military uniform and by the way it looked, that of a higher rank. “Good morning, I am glad you could join us,” a man in a dark blue suit said to us. His slight German accent told me that he is part of the European delegation. After several awkward moments, we are all acquainted with each other’s names, representing the EU’s Centurion force are Horst Roth and Jacqueline Blanquer. For Canada’s Triton Command, Sarah Marois and Stephen Dane. The Americans in the room were Lt. General Robertson, Senator Reeves and Representative Taylor. Looking around the room, I realized this was going to be quite the meeting. I reminded myself to not treat the human delegation as a single cohesive entity but rather treat it as the fragmented group that it is. All three, with their own values and interests. From what I have gathered from Kalron, the Lt. General is the new head of America’s Jupiter Corps, the reconstituted FRUSI. While the senator and representative are members of Congress’ oversight committee on affairs involving the vampires and werewolves. If our initial assessment is correct, Rep. Taylor will be the most difficult person in this meeting, as a member of the Patriotic Caucus, god only knows why he is in this meeting, maybe his peers wanted him out of their congressional deliberations and shipped him off to nowhere Arizona. “Thank you for taking the time to meet with us,” Reza began, he spoke with clarity and an aura of control that showed his age and power. “We appreciate you reaching out, our work with the VHC and WCC has been productive these past few years,” replied Canada’s Sarah Marois. “Based on what we discussed yesterday, there is an enemy that is, an even a greater threat than that of the Blood Army, am I correct?” asked Horst Roth. “Yes, you are correct, they have already made several movements and the United States has borne the brunt, however this does not mean the other countries are safe,” Reza replied. “What of this threat? Can our American counterparts explain this further?” asked Stephen Dane. Lt. General Robertson cleared his throat, exchanged looks with his fellow Americans, then replied, “I am very much aware that your intelligence agencies have notified you of some destabilizing events that our military has encountered. To cut the story short, in the past few weeks, we’ve been handed multiple defeats by this enemy, to date, we’ve lost several thousand troops, and more than a hundred thousand civilians, if it weren’t for the VHC and WCC assistance in the most recent event, it could have been much worse.” The Canadians and Europeans exchanged looks of surprise and shock at the level of threat we’re all facing, the thought of America, supposedly the world’s most powerful military force soundly defeated by this enemy is almost unthinkable. “The VHC and WCC warned us to approach this enemy with caution, but we acted with haste and we suffered the consequences,” the general added, with frustration, anger, and sadness in his voice. The man clearly did not agree with the decisions made concerning Fort Smith. “What of these allies you talked about? I gather these men over here have something to do with it?” asked Jacqueline. Reza smiled, then answered, “yes, these men are powerful allies, and general, senator, and congressman, I’d like to inform you that the involvement of these people was critical in our success in Fort Smith, without their help, we would not have come close to victory.” The humans exchanged confused looks, then Senator Reeves asked, “What do you mean Councilor? Sorry but I don’t quite understand, we were under the assumption that the operation in Fort Smith was a joint VHC and WCC effort.” Reza smiled at the senator, then replied, “My apologies but we weren’t quite forthright with the details of our operation, the Fort Smith campaign was that of a three-race alliance.” “Three-race alliance?” The Senator asked. “Yes, three-race indeed,” Reza smiled. “Sorry, I don’t quite understand,” Stephen Dane added from the side. “Our operation was composed of vampires, werewolves, and that of another race,” Luca clarified. “What other race could there be?” Representative Taylor muttered. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe the introductions earlier were quite lacking,” Luca said smiling as he directed his gaze at us. August then continued Luca’s train of thought and spoke, “We would like to introduce you to Crown Prince Rehanmir, Prince Christopher, Prince Havar, and Master Yalekin of the Elevenhasil or the Elvish Realm.” Silence. The humans were surprised at the thought of having real live elves in front of them. “How…” Horst stammered. “Elves?” Congressman Taylor scoffed at the idea, he obnoxiously laughed at the thought then when he gathered his thoughts, he looked at us then at the VHC and WCC councilors, “You can’t be serious, the elves are long gone!” “Representative, why would the VHC and WCC lie to us?” Stephen interjected, aghast at the poor behavior of the congressman. “Mr. Dane is right, we don’t have a reason to lie to you, if anything, what we are offering is for your respective organizations to join our alliance. The elves have been vital in all our operations, without them, there is no hope for us to win against the enemy,” Reza replied. “And what of this enemy you’re so afraid of?” Representative Taylor asked indignant. “Congressman, the United States has been at the receiving end of the attacks of this enemy, you should know better than to doubt the severity of the threat. Detroit was heavily damaged, and Fort Smith is beyond repair, what more could you possibly ask for to acknowledge the strength of the enemy,” Reza replied. “Councilor Reza Hatami is right, we’ve lost too much to deny this any further,” General Robertson added, he momentarily looked at us then asked Reza, “So who or… what exactly is this enemy of ours?” Reza exchanged looks with my uncle then replied, “I believe the crown prince is in a better position to answer that.” My uncle took a moment to himself, then answered, “To put it bluntly, we’re facing demons. Powerful beings of great strength and ability, so far with the help of the vampires and werewolves, we have dealt with 2 of their generals. However, 7 remain at large.” “Wait… generals? And 7 of them?” Senator Reeves asked almost dumbfounded. “Yes, demons are organized under a general, each general can have a maximum of 1,000 demons,” my uncle replied. “What are they after?” Jacqueline asked. “Power, control, territory… everything for that matter,” My uncle replied. “How could they just appear out of nowhere, something’s wrong,” Senator Reeves added. “The Senator is right, it doesn’t add up,” Congressman Taylor chimed in, then he smirked at us, then added, “How can we be sure the elves aren’t behind this? They’re just as new to the picture as these demons.” “What did you just say? Did you just compare us to demons?!” Prince Havar barked. “Well… I’m just thinking out loud, what’s in it for you to be helping us anyway?” Congressman Taylor replied. “To put it simply, if the Earth falls, who is to say our realm isn’t next?” I butted in, not giving Prince Havar the chance to reply. I wanted the situation to not boil over. “So that’s where your people have been all this time? A realm of your own? We have no information of such thing,” Sarah said. “Yes, we have our own realm, you should all know that our people disappeared from this planet over 200 years ago,” I replied. “We do know about that, but countless missions have failed to trace your whereabouts,” General Robertson said. “We wanted to be left alone,” my uncle tersely replied. “Pretty convenient for you to return just when the world needs you huh? I’m not eating any of this horse shit, and you guys couldn’t be that powerful,” Congressman Taylor spat. Goodness this guy really is quite the personality, I’ve seen tapes of him in congress and he’s temperamental and xenophobic as well. “Congressman, I should warn you, the elves are here to do you a favor,” August said gritting his teeth in frustration. “Can we just all relax?” Horst said then looking at us he asked, “What is it you can offer?” Yal smirked, then replied, “Magic… last time I checked humans haven’t figured that out, vampires and werewolves can’t help you on that regard either, while the demons are very adept in the dark arts. The American defeat in Fort Smith should have made it clear, your modern weapons are no match for the demons, especially if you’re faced with a very powerful demon general.” “Magic huh?” Horst from the EU asked, as he rubbed his chin in deep thought. “Magic?! You’ve got to be kidding me,” Representative Taylor scoffed. “Congressman, can you please tone it down, you’re not helping,” General Robertson warned the representative. Then the new head of FRUSI, or should I say, the Jupiter Force looked at us then said, “I apologize for how our colleague is acting, please don’t hold it all against all of us.” “He better watch his tongue,” Prince Havar hissed. “If you’re all so powerful, why don’t you show us?” Representative Taylor dared to ask. Reza, Luca, and August snorted in disbelief, while my uncle and Yal were grinning, Prince Havar on the other hand was seething. “Please, what can we do to prove our worth? Though you might regret asking for a demonstration,” I retorted. “Show us some of this magic of yours,” Representative Taylor replied. “I don’t think that would be necessary, the elves have the support of the VHC and WCC, that should be enough,” Senator Reeves said. “I will not have any of it, the Canadians and Europeans may do as they wish and join this alliance or whatever you want to call it but I want to see what the elves have to offer,” Congressman Taylor proudly replied. The older man was clearly full of himself. “I agree with the Senator, the elves have nothing to prove. I caution you to not further add any insult to their capabilities, with complete honesty, if the elves pull out of the alliance, we stand no chance against the remaining generals,” August said, in an angry tone at the congressman. “Councilor, I appreciate the thought, but why don’t we indulge the congressman?” I smiled at the werewolf, then I set my gaze upon Congressman Taylor and asked, “What do you have in mind?” The congressman was more than ecstatic to be proven correct and boldly announced, “I want one of them to fight the Jupiter Force’s Elite Squad.” General Roberson was shocked at the pronouncement, “The Elite Squad program is not yet ready.” “To my understanding you have already piloted the ser..” I felt the congressman was about to divulge something that was supposed to be a secret but caught himself, then he continued, “I know you have several of your men at the ready, just do it or I will block further congressional funding to the program.” The general huffed in frustration, “This is a complete disregard for protocol. I will have none of this.” “General, why don’t we humor the congressman? I promise to be gentle.” I smiled at the older man in military uniform. “You… you fighting the elite squad? What could you possibly do? You’re just a kid.” The congressman laughed at me. “How dare you talk to a prince of the realm like that?!” Prince Havar shouted. In his anger he sent a wave of energy across the room, making the air heavier and the lights flicker. All the humans in the room were obviously intimidated by Prince Havar’s outburst. “Prince Havar let me handle this. I am ambassador after all,” I said with a gentle smile, attempting to calm down my Patri’s cousin. “I’d love to see you fight our elite squad,” Congressman Taylor sneered. “Let’s do it!” I announced as I stood up, “come on, let’s do it now and get this over with.” The general was shaking his head in disbelief but stood up nonetheless and made the arrangements for me to fight his elite squad. -- Almost 10 minutes later we found ourselves in the middle of the runway. All the attendees of the meeting were about 50 feet away from us and now I was facing 4 men in tight leather uniforms. They were all very muscular and stood tall, all at least 6’2 in height. It appears the congressman was confident with his odds, it seems the Jupiter Force has something up their sleeve for him to be this certain of a win. Then with a blow of a whistle, the fight began. The humans moved incredibly fast, unnatural even. The kicks and punches came instantaneously, and they were all very much in sync. I would even peg them as Stratos apprentices, these guys were strong and fast, no human should have this skill. However, despite all their strength and speed, I was way out of their league. In less than 2 minutes it was over, with all 4 ‘elite’ squad members knocked unconscious. “Impossible,” The congressman muttered. “What just happened?” whispered Stephen to one of the other humans. “Skilled enough?” I confidently asked the congressman. The previously emboldened congressman was at a loss for words, then he recomposed himself and stood defiant, “There was no magic in that, you just did whatever martial art trick you had and knocked them out.” “You’re simply impossible to please,” Sarah said in frustration to the American congressman. “I think we’ve had enough,” Senator Reeves added. “Magic eh? Is that what you really want to see?” I asked in full confidence. “Yes, show us what you’re made of,” The congressman commanded. “You don’t know what you’re getting yourselves into. Prince Christopher is the most powerful elf out there,” Luca added. General Robertson then looked at Luca and asked, “Him? Really?” pointing at me. “Oh General, Prince Christopher could obliterate this entire base if he wanted to. Congressman Taylor does not know who he is talking to, Prince Christopher is the grandson of the King of the elves, and the Elf ambassador to earth, he also singlehandedly defeated the 2 generals the alliance has face.” Reza chimed in. “So, you want a magic show eh?” I taunted the congressman. Then I looked at the General and asked, “Remember one of your own asked for it. I will not be held accountable for any damage.” “Oh oh… he’s willing to play,” August laughed at my antics. “Chris…” My uncle said warning me to not overdo things. “Don’t worry uncle. I’ll hold back, but I’ll need someone to fight with me.” “Count me out,” Yal replied. “Don’t worry Yal, I already have a person in mind.” I then closed my eyes and concentrated on doing what I had planned. This will be the first time I will do this but ever since my third ascension, I’ve felt more powerful than ever. The possibilities were almost limitless. Then with a deep breath I reached out my aura beyond the barrier and searched for a certain individual in mind. Not more than a second later, I found him. Then raising my right hand in front of me, I created a portal to the realm. The portal appearing like a spherical distortion in space several feet across. Not a moment later, King Ethnar came walking through the portal. The older king looked around and saw everyone’s surprised faces, even that of the elves, vampires, and werewolf. My uncle greeted King Ethnar with a smile and shook his head in both amusement and disbelief, “Hello grandfather, glad you could join us.” “So… you had to resort to calling me huh?” Gramps teased me. “Yeah, that seems to be the case.” “I’m assuming things have not been as smooth as expected?” “One congressman has been quite the thorn,” I replied cocking my head towards the hateful congressman. “Ah… I see” King Ethnar grinned at me. “Let’s give them a show they’ll never forget. They want magic, let’s give them magic.” I said. Gramps and I took our position in the middle of the runway, several hundred feet away from our spectators. “So, what will it be?” Gramps asked me. “Just a light spar,” I winked at him. “Nah… I thought I should show you the power of a second ascended as you call me,” King Ethnar replied as he conjured a 7 feet long trident. His trident had a menacing aura, it was made of a black metal with specks of silver and gold. Without any warning, King Ethnar hit the ground with the hilt of his trident and sent a large wave of rock towards me. I conjured an energy barrier to deflect the rock wave, good thing my shield remained intact coz I felt a very powerful vibration in my shielding when the rock wave made contact. I retaliated with two powerful fire balls but King Ethnar managed to deflect them with his trident. Gramps then started spinning the trident in the air then out of the blue, large pieces of the runway started breaking off the tarmac and started floating in the air. As Gramps hit the ground with his trident, dozens of rock pieces flew towards me. With a powerful earth spell, I turned the rocks and boulders into sand. King Ethnar seemed proud of my display of earth magic skill, however, not to be outdone, he hit the ground with his trident again and again sent multiple waves of rock and debris towards me. I stood my ground and reached out to the pieces of earth hurtling towards me and with some effort redirected them at my great grandfather. The older king was obviously surprised with my counter attack but smirked at me nonetheless, with a quick movement from his trident, he sent a powerful magnus spell obliterating the waves of rocks I sent him. King Ethnar’s magnus left a deep gash in the already broken tarmac. The magnus spell was so powerful, the ground was glowing and smoking. “Show off,” I teased him. “Show me what else you got,” Gramps taunted back. “Oh… you got it old man,” I replied. I then formed 12-layered Magnus Spells on each of my hands then clapped my hands on top me, combining the magnus spells into a single powerful orb of pure energy. I threw the large ball of energy towards gramps but he stood his ground and reinforced his trident with a magnus spell of his own. The trident started glowing bright gold and then Gramps threw it towards my magnus spell. There was a bright and loud explosion followed by a powerful wave in the air. To my surprise my attack fizzled and King Ethnar’s trident was now flying towards me, goodness me, I underestimated gramps this time. I calmed myself down, and thought that two can play at this game of vessels that King Ethnar has started. I called upon the Ring of Eyaha to give me an energy boost then I willed the Chains of Haldruin to materialize in front of me. King Ethnar was visibly surprised with the easy I called upon two vessels. I threw the chains towards the trident and forced it to wrap around it. I pumped more energy into the chains from the ring, and after a bit of struggle, I succeeded in capturing my great grandfather’s prized vessel. I pulled the chains back towards me and caught the trident in my left hand. When I caught the trident, I felt its magic resist me. It was bound to refuse me as I wasn’t its bearer, however I forced the trident into submission but willing the chains inside me to loosen and give me more access to my powers. I pumped more of my energy into the trident I slowly felt it giving in, however before I got complete control over it, I was caught off guard by a powerful magnus beam hitting me. I was thrown back from where I stood, and hit the ground more than fifty feet away. “Don’t take your eyes off your opponent,” King Ethnar smirked at me. “I couldn’t just let you take control of my trident like that,” he smiled. I grunted in frustration but oh well, Gramps is right, I lost focus and forgot all about him. Looking around the heavily damaged runway, gramps announced, “I think this should be enough.” Seeing the cracked, cratered, and destroyed tarmac, I shrugged my shoulders then using earth magic - with a powerful stomp to the ground, I repaired all the damage we’ve done. I then smiled at the now slack jawed congressman. The other observers were not far behind in their surprise and shock. Prince Havar was more than ecstatic to see my display of power.
  5. Chapter 112 – Deliberations “It’s good to see you Chris, I am very happy to see that you’re well,” Reza said, as he entered the video feed. “I think we all share Reza’s feelings,” smiled Luigi from the screen. “Thank you, it’s good to be back,” I smiled at them. “Your highness, since you are the one that defeated the demon general, can you give us an account of the events that transpired? Any additional information on the abilities of this demon general, will surely help us prepare for the next,” Jeppe said. “Of course councilor,” I replied. I took a moment to collect my thoughts and then started to discuss what transpired between Azarahel and I. However, I omitted mentioning to them that I consumed the demon general, Patri and King Ethnar still believe the rest are not ready for that information, and I totally agree with them. It took me almost 20 minutes to finish my end of the story, several questions were asked along the way. Victor and August also helped me in recounting the events between the powerful demon general. “Are all generals going to be this difficult?” grumbled one of the representatives of the WCC. “Let’s hope not, all we can do right now is prepare,” Luigi, the WCC co-chair pacified the concerned clan alpha. “So how are the talks with the human agencies?” Yal asked from beside me. “Representatives from Canada and the EU are flying in tomorrow, they want to meet us,” Luca replied. “Then there’s the issue of whether or not you’ll want to reveal yourselves to the humans,” Reza added. He paused, then continued, “Hiding your involvement in this alliance will surely be more difficult moving forward.” “We understand your concern Reza, and that is something we are discussing from our end. We will let you know of our decision as soon as we have made one,” I replied. “There’s also the matter of recruiting into our security forces, the recent event in Fort Smith has bared our vulnerability to large scale engagements,” August said. “I agree with August. This is something we will have to discuss in the next WCC meeting,” Juan replied with an introspective tone. “Same goes for the VHC, we have to shore up our forces for the next confrontation with the demons,” Reza said. The meeting ended after several more minutes discussing various matters. -- After the alliance meeting, my uncle, Yal, and I were back in my study to discuss our next move. “So, do you think we should reveal ourselves to the humans?” I asked my uncle. “I think it’s about time, I agree with Reza, it will surely be more difficult for the alliance to hide our involvement especially with everything that has transpired.” “Do you think the High Circle and High Court will agree?” I asked. “That’s something I cannot guarantee, several members of the High Circle and the High Court are averse to further involving ourselves with matters concerning Earth. Further involvement with the humans could pose risks to the realm.” “Risks? What do you mean?” I asked. “Think about it, the moment the humans learn of our existence and the realm. Such an event will have repercussions, our existence will force them to re-think their strategies in dealing with the other races. We will be a new factor for them to consider.” Yal replied. “Let’s not forget that the realm could also be a tempting place for them to invade, you know how some humans are consumed with their lust for power and wealth,” my uncle added. “But the barrier protects the realm, right?” I asked. “Yes, we do have the barrier, that’s something we have going for ourselves,” my uncle replied. “So, I think this calls for a greater monitoring of the humans?” I teasingly grinned at Yal. Yal let out an amused snort, then said, “of course, seems like my team will have to work harder to monitor any threats coming from the humans.” “I’ll make sure father gives you the additional resources,” my uncle said while holding a grin of his out. -- It was already 4am and I still couldn’t sleep, there’s a lot to think about, not only about what has been discussed in the meeting earlier or with my uncle and Yal, but also this entire ascension process. This whole climbing the ascension hierarchy has thrown me into a loop, I mean, do I have to actively search for the remaining keys? Is full ascension something I’d want for myself? The emissaries clarified some of my questions, but they’ve left more to be discussed. As a third ascended what am I now capable of? Let’s also not forget about my bouts of “possession” whenever I faced a demon general, it seems like there is a higher power taking me over but what is that all about? Are the higher beings actively intervening in my ascension process? Do I have a benefactor amongst the full ascended beings? I groaned in frustration as the questions filled my mind, I was starting to get a headache, and all this thinking has brought me nowhere nearer to the answers I seek. Sleep did not come easy, but finally it did. I already knew where I was the moment I opened my eyes, the beauty and scenery is unmistakable, I was in the Plane of Ascension. I moved my head around, hoping to catch a glimpse of the emissaries but I was disappointed to find myself alone. ‘What do I do now?’ I thought. Moments later, I decided to look around, the Plane seemed endless and it was all mine to enjoy, I couldn’t help but giggle as I thought of it as a special members lounge only accessible to the third ascended and above. I wandered throughout the Plane for more than an hour and found it utterly beautiful. It’s hard to describe something as spectacular and breathtaking, I was at a loss for words. When I grew tired of walking around, I decided to experiment, if this is a place that’s only for those that have ascended does that mean I have greater control over my powers here? To test my theory, I willed the Book of Songs to materialize and it did! I flipped through its pages and finally, the scripts were finally readable to my untrained eye. I can finally understand its contents. Every symbol written on it carried a certain weight of magic on it, then I remembered how one of the emissaries said that the book’s powers were directly connected to that of the flow. I don’t know how but every time I set my eyes on a page, the music and the intents of the song immediately flowed into me, the creative and destructive potential of each syllable from the book scared me. The Book of Songs is something you don’t want to mess with. That’s something Azarahel learned the hard way. As I perused through the book, I absentmindedly started humming a tune, the moment I looked away from the book, I was shocked to find myself in the middle of a vibrant and colorful forest, ‘did I do this?’ I thought, did I seriously just create an entire forest by humming a tune? Recovering from the initial shock, I flipped through several more pages and started humming and even indulged in some singing, the air shifted and the entire place was awash with energy, flowers sprouted and trees continued to grow larger and larger, with a small flick of my hand I created a swarm of butterflies. I was taken out of my reverie as someone spoke not far away from me, “Ascend” the deep male voice said. I tried to look for where the voice was coming from and to my shock I was greeted by a bright silhouette of a male figure. I squinted my eyes and held my hands in front of my face to shield my eyes from the colors emanating from the figure. Then he spoke again, “Ascend… Ascend…” “Huh?” I asked in confusion. “You must ascend, master light and dark and all four elements, those are the fourth and fifth keys. Ascend!” and just like that, after a bright explosion, the figure vanished. I was confused for several minutes, but the figure seemed to bear no ill-intent towards me, and he did give me a clue! I don’t know what he was referring to mastering light and dark, but I did know about the four elements! That’s the next key! I already knew how to use three elements, it seems like I have to accelerate my training in the arts of air magic. -- It was already almost noon when I woke up, and I’m glad to have not been disturbed. I yawned and stretched my body and thought back to what has transpired in the Planes of Ascension, Air! I have to learn it and soon! I rushed out of my room and went to the portal. “Where are you going?” My dad asked as I bumped into him in the corridor. “To the palace, be right back,” I said as I waved my hands not even looking back. “Okay…” my dad replied, and his voice showed confusion. I can already imagine him shaking his head in amusement as I made a dash towards the portal. Crossing into the threshold, I immediately changed my clothes to my palace outfits as second nature and started making my way towards Patri’s office. Scanning my hand on the panel of my grandfather’s office, a green light told me the King was inside. “Chris, it’s good to see you again.” Patri smiled at me. “I have to learn Air Magic!” I said. “Huh?” My grandfather asked. “Air Magic, I have to learn it soon.” “Okay, I am happy with your enthusiasm to learn a new element, but if I may ask, where is this sudden willingness to learn coming from?” “Mastering the four elements is the next key to my ascension,” I replied. Patri’s wrinkled his forehead as he absorbed what I told him. “I see, and where did you learn this?” my grandfather curiously asked. “Someone told me, it’s hard to describe, but it seems a higher being is helping me out, I was in the Planes, the place I told you before, and it appeared in front of me and told me to ascend, the being gave me clues, and the next easiest path for me to reach fourth ascension is to learn air magic.” “I will have it arranged, I will have an Air Master available to you as soon as possible.” Patri said to me. “Thank you Patri, you’re the best.” I smiled at him. “Don’t mention it Chris, I’m excited to see what this next level of ascension will bring, however, I do not have to remind you to be cautious, this whole thing is something me and even my father are unfamiliar with” “I know Patri, I will be careful.” “Okay, that’s good to hear and since you’re already here, I have to tell you, there will be a meeting in a few hours with the High Circle and High Court, I want you to be present.” “What is this meeting about?” I asked. “Our future relationship with the humans,” Patri tersely replied. “Oh, I see.” “I want you to be there, as ambassador to Earth, and as someone who has fought the demons several times, your insights are more than welcome in the discussion.” “I understand Patri, I will be there,” I replied. Then after a pause, I asked, “Are we expecting a strong opposition?” “Expect several members of the High Circle and High Court to voice their concerns. I am not yet sure how Havar’s faction will take this, but in the end, it’s going to be my decision to make.” “I hope he does not give us much trouble in the deliberations,” I replied. “Let’s hope so.” -- Back in Greensburg, everyone in my household was already eating lunch when I joined them. “So, did you do whatever you had to do in the realm? You were in such a rush earlier,” my dad said. “Yes, Patri’s going to find an Air Master for me.” “Hmm, nice, then when you learn it, maybe you can teach Etalos and me some new tricks,” dad grinned at me. “Of course dad, how’s your training by the way?” “It’s good, my teachers are very understanding and are very helpful. Goodness, I’m still getting used to the fact that I’m able to manipulate air, imagine, me, a human, with magic!” Dad said is disbelief. “And not just any magic dad, you and Leo have become Bronze level mages, that’s good!” “Certainly, that’s something to be proud of, very few elves even reach that level, and to become Bronze in such a short span of time, it’s almost unheard of,” Nomir added. “I agree with Nomir, getting to silver level will be a task, and it will take longer than the time it took for you to reach Bronze, but I’m sure with your level of skill, you’ll get there,” Kalron said. “Becoming silver would mean that you’re amongst the top 1% of all mages.” Nomir added. “That big a jump huh?” Dad asked. “Yes, Platinums are very rare,” Nomir shot a glance at me, then continued, “Platinums are 1 in a million, Golds are 1 in 2,000 and Silvers 1 in a hundred, Bronzes are make up 11% of the elvish population, Coppers 21%, about 2/3 of the elvish population have magic capability below that of a Copper.” “Wow…” Dad muttered. “Exactly,” Nomir tersely replied. “So, this Air Master, any idea who it will be?” Etalos asked with excitement. “Maybe it’s Master Anisa,” my friend added. “The Air Mage in my Ascension?” I asked, remembering the lady that joined the other members of the Mage Council in bestowing the blessings of the elements on me. “Yes, that’s her, she’s an amazing Air Mage,” Etalos replied. “Well, let’s see if Patri can get her to tutor me.” I replied. Discussion then moved on to other stuff like August’s upcoming move to Greensburg and my preparations for matriculation. *groan* -- To get some semblance of normalcy, I spent the afternoon reviewing for my matriculation, the sooner I get this over with the sooner I will be able to deal with the next steps in my education. Thinking about it, I am now inclined to study in the realm, being a prince and ambassador, I think additional training and learning from those with greater experience and knowledge in fields I don’t know much about will help me be a better servant of the realm. Etalos joined me in my study just as I finished my review. “Hey,” I said to Etalos. “Hey, Chris, you doing okay?” “Yes, just finished studying, and now I’m nervous for this upcoming meeting Patri has invited me into.” “You’ll be fine, I’m sure you grandfather and uncles will not leave you hanging.” “That I am sure of, however, there will be a lot of eyes on me, I can’t help but me nervous.” “I suppose that’s natural, just be yourself, I’m sure you’ll win them over. If not, then I’m sure you can just knock them out,” Etalos giggled. “Haha, funny…” “Seriously, you’re already ambassador, your words will carry weight in that meeting, don’t sell yourself short.” “Thanks, Etalos.” “Come on, let me help you prepare for this meeting. I have some files that might help.” Then for the next hour or so, Etalos and I reviewed the information we had on almost everything from the vampires, werewolves, humans, and even demons. -- Victor and Henry joined us in the house for dinner, seeing my boyfriend again was a welcome sight. “So, you two love birds got anything planned for Valentine’s?” Dad asked. The look on Victor’s and my face must have been really comical, after everything that’s happened, understandably, it appears we’ve both forgotten that Valentine’s was just around the corner. However, Victor was first to recover, and said “Of course, I have everything planned,” though his voice slightly betrayed him, I knew him well enough that he was bluffing. “Yeah, me too, I have a surprise just waiting for Victor.” I forced myself to smile, I hope that was believable, internally, I was panicking, I did not have a surprise for Victor! Gosh, I hope Etalos has some tips for me. “Okay, just wanted to check on the both of you,” dad added. Then my father turned his gaze towards Kalron, “How bout you Kalron? Anything planned?” Kalron stammered and almost choked, “uh, uhm, I think so.” “Good, glad to know that.” Dad tersely replied. “How about you William, any plans, anyone special?” Victor teased my dad and much to my surprise my father actually blushed and turned his gaze away from us! Oh boy, this bit I gotta hear. “Daad, is there someone special? Have you been holding out on us?!” I exclaimed. “What?! No! This isn’t about me young man, goodness, kids these days.” Dad harrumphed as he crossed his arms. “Uh huh,” I shot my dad an unconvinced look. -- Etalos joined me in crossing to the realm, I had my senior meeting to attend while he had some stuff to deal with in our office. I took a deep breath before entering the corridor that lead to the meeting room. There were several guards stationed across the hallway and understandably so, most if not all members of the senior government hierarchy are attending this meeting. Wearing my silver circlet and tight fitting red and gold robes, I mustered the confidence to walk towards the assembly hall. The guards beside the large wooden doors nervously exchanged looks as I approached them, and without question they both opened the doors for me. I nodded towards them and after a brief smile, I entered the large and ornate assembly hall. The assembly hall was reserved for special meetings like this, where a large number of senior government officers are in attendance. The assembly hall had high ceilings, approximately 40 feet high, its walls lined with white marble. The space was circular in shape, In the middle of the hall were four semicircular tables, 2 tables to a row, and facing each other to form a two tiered circular meeting space. There were already familiar faces in the room, some however were foreign to me. However, it was easy to spot Patri who was seated at the middle of the first row of one of the tables, Uncle Rehanmir was to his right and King Ethnar to his left. Gramps saw me approach them and patted the chair to his left, guess I’m sitting with the big boys today. Almost 10 minutes later, the room was filled with members from the Advisory Council, High Circle, and High Court. The room was filled with people in Red/Gold and Blue/Silver robes, well more on the blue and silver since only royals wore the red-gold ones. “Good morning everyone, I am glad you have all made it to this session,” Patri said as he started the meeting. “I have called for this conference to discuss a very important matter, as you may already know, Prince Christopher has already slayed 2 demon generals. Both affairs were done in a joint mission with the vampires and werewolves, I believe the alliance with the two other races has greatly benefited us.” Patri paused, then continued, “It is to this end, with 7 remaining generals remaining, I believe we will benefit if the humans are made aware of our existence. I believe it’s time we end our seclusion.” Silence engulfed the assembly as everyone took their time digesting what Patri has just said. “The secrecy of our existence is paramount, it’s part of our basic law, and we have left earth for a reason.” Stomir said, a member of the high court. “Indeed, we have left Earth for a reason, and now matters there cannot simply be ignored. Our allies in the VHC and WCC have also voiced concern that hiding our involvement from the humans will be more difficult as we move forward. They already had a hard time covering for us in the recent operation,” Patri replied. “Then, I think we should withdraw from the alliance, we have nothing to gain from helping them anyway,” Stomir grumbled. Prince Havar who was sitting beside Stomir was smiling all throughout the exchange between Patri and High Court Judge. “Now, Judge Stomir, I think we should hear more from the King, there should be something more behind this decision, I believe the King has not made this decision lightly,” Prince Havar said as he smiled at Stomir then set his gaze on us across him. Patri kept his calm demeanor, however, knowing him, I knew he was surprised to have his cousin take his side. “Prince Havar is right, there is more to this,” Patri replied. He took a moment to set his haze upon everyone within his field of vision, then continued, “We need the cooperation of the humans to deal with the demon threat. They may not have our magic, nor our technological advantages but they do have the numbers. We don not have the capacity to send tens of thousands, of troops across the barrier at a moment’s notice, not only will it exhaust our energy reserves but it is a logistical challenge, let’s not also forget that sending the Royal Guard en masse to earth will compromise our security, what if the demons find a way to enter our realm while a significant fraction of our forces are on the other side?” “I see your point, your majesty, but this is such a drastic and bold move on our part,” said Melira, a judge from the High Court. “It is indeed drastic but not uncalled for,” added Prince Delic, Patri’s brother. “What does the ambassador recommend?” asked Yelindra, also a judge from the High Court. Mustering enough confidence, I replied, “I agree with King ZoHal, we must engage the humans. I’m not saying that we let all of them know, just like the vampires and werewolves, we should limit this information to the higher levels of human government. The humans have more to lose with the demon threat being on their side of the barrier, they’ve already lost more than a hundred thousand, and have received multiple military defeats at the hands of the demons. They’re in no position to make unreasonable demands from us at this point.” “If I may ask the spymaster, Master Yalekin, what security ramifications are we expecting from the humans? I agree they are in no position to make demands from us at this point. However, after the demon threat is dealt with, how sure are we, they won’t set their sights on our lands,” asked Faron, a member of the advisory council. “First, we have the barrier to protect us from human incursion, second, assuming they’re able to breach the veil, we have enough troops to deal with them here, this is our land after all, we have the advantage here. But getting back to your question, at this point it’s hard to be sure of the exact human response, but I don’t doubt that there will be military hawks from the human camp, that will see this as an opportunity for them to expand their riches and territory. Some of you will remember, profit sharing and taxation agreement some of the sore points in the Vampire Accords and Werewolf Treaty. We should be wary of the humans, but the demons are the greater threat. We can deal with the humans through better intelligence gathering,” Yal replied. “I agree with Master Yalekin, we can deal with the humans if it comes to a military confrontation, however we can surely get ahead of them through better monitoring of their movements, we have the resources for that.” Patri added. “So, a deal with the humans huh? How do we move forward with this?” asked Yelindra. “Our contacts in the VHC are willing to serve as liaison for the initial meeting, Reza Hatami and Luca Tremonti of the VHC will help us,” I replied. “How expansive is this relationship with the humans going to be?” Asked Stomir. “At this point it’s just security cooperation, any talks on the economic and social front will be shelved until later,” Patri replied. “What else can Prince Christopher tell us about the demon threat?” asked Prince Havar. “Uhm, the threat is certainly something we should be concerned about, there are 7 generals left after all. You have all read the reports on the first two battles with the generals, the damage is extensive and we have taken losses, let us expect the next generals to be more cunning, and be more willing to cause larger damage,” I replied. “I see, then, I see there is no problem with this proposal of the king, let us engage the humans,” Prince Havar calmly, yet confidently announced. I exchanged looks with my uncles as Prince Havar made his announcement, I never expected him to be on our side. For the next hour or so, the assembly discussed the finer details of Patri’s plans. After the meeting ended, those in attendance broke into smaller groups, as the power players made idle talk and caught up with each other. Prince Havar just finished talking to a member of the High Circle when I approached him. “Oh, Prince Christopher, to what do I owe the pleasure?” Havar asked as I got close to him. “Sorry to be upfront, but I never expected you to support Patri.” Havar snickered then replied, “Oh, your highness, I only have the best interest of the realm in mind, but don’t confuse my support on the measure today as a sign of me being okay with the humans. I believe they will show their colors soon enough, I still am lobbying the High Court for the consideration of casting the Astra Spell. If you won’t do it, we will find another way. This relationship with the humans will not last, believe me, I’ve been around long enough to know we cannot trust them. My support today was for the sake of the realm, in the long-run that involves ridding Earth of that filth,” Havar replied almost with a disgusted sneer at the thought of us cozying with humans. “I don’t know how to convince you otherwise Prince Havar, I really believe there is an opportunity for us to work with the humans in a productive and mutually beneficial manner.” “How about this… why don’t you convince the King to include me in the entourage that will be talking with the humans, maybe all I need is more contact with them? Maybe a firsthand interaction with those creatures will change my mind about them?” Havar suggested. “Really? You would consider that?” I asked. “I will do this for your sake, but don’t count on it. I believe I will still be proven right in the end, but what is there to lose? Get my cousin to include me in the delegation to Earth and I might start changing my opinions about the humans.” “I will see what I can do,” I tersely replied. “Let’s just hope the humans will behave properly, I am not inclined to be patient and understanding with their faults,” Havar added, before leaving me alone to think things through. -- “Aren’t you guys bothered with how Prince Havar took Patri’s side?” I asked the room with Patri, Gramps, my two uncles, and Yal. “I was caught off guard as well, I did not expect that from him, however, thinking about it, I think Stomir was his proxy as the voice of the opposition earlier,” Patri replied. “Those two have a cozy relationship,” Uncle Rehanmir added. “So why would he support us?” Uncle Selvenus asked. “Maybe it has something to do with the favor he asked from me,” I replied. “What favor?” Gramps asked. “He asked me to convince Patri to include him in the delegation to Earth.” “He what?” Yal asked in disbelief. “He is up to something, that I’m sure of, but if he wants to be part of the delegation, so be it, it might strengthen his relationship with Chris, if anything that will be a plus for us.” Patri replied. “So, you’re okay with him joining me in Earth?” “For the meeting? Yes, with reservations but we will just have to keep an eye on him, knowing Havar, I’m sure he will take every opportunity to paint the humans as the enemy along with the demons, we will just have to reel him in,” Patri replied. “Okay, I see your point. I’ll reach out to his office to let them know that Prince Havar will join the delegation.” The conversation then moved towards more light hearted banter as we discussed the love life of both my uncles, both of whom have been very tight lipped about possible love interests. -- “So how was your meeting?” Etalos asked when I returned to the house. “Better than expected actually, it wasn’t that bad, the assembly agreed to involve the humans in the anti-demon effort.” “Hmm, that sounds promising, so I’m guessing more work for us huh?” Etalos grinned. “Yes, indeed, speaking of which, we will have to tell Reza and Luca to inform their human contacts that we will join them in the upcoming meeting. The moment you learn of the names of the human representatives, ask Kalron to do a thorough background check on all of them, I want to know who we are dealing with.” “Consider it done.” “Thanks, Etalos.” “Always a pleasure.” As soon as Etalos left my study, I called Victor’s phone. “Hey,” I said. “Hey, how did your meeting go?” “Well, it was okay I suppose, goodness Victor, I don’t know how you deal with all this politicking.” “You’ll get used to it, just remember to live your life as well, you may be a prince of the realm but you are also Chris, the son and friend we all love,” Victor replied. “That’s rich coming from you, don’t even try to hide the fact that you forgot about Valentine’s coming,” I said in mock anger. “As if you didn’t as well,” Victor snickered, then he continued, “I guess we have to be more aware of our lives outside the roles we’ve found ourselves. Honestly though, we should find more time for us, let’s not all this trouble consume all of our time, I get that we have responsibilities but we need to enjoy life as well, that means enjoying the moments we share with the people we love, that means, enjoying the time we have with each other.” “Oh Victor Meyer, are you getting sappy on me?” I teased. “Can’t a boyfriend be sappy?” “Of course you can, I actually quite like it. So, it’s a date on the 14th then huh?” “Yes, it’s a date.” “Looking forward to it Mr. Meyer,” I replied. “Looking forward to the surprise you’re so proud about,” Victor replied teasing me, fully knowing that my remark over dinner earlier was totally off the cuff. *groan* “Yes, surprise, I know, I know,” I giggled.
  6. Chapter 111 – The Keys Victor’s POV When Chris ordered us to leave, I barely had the opportunity to protest as he put me, August, and Nomir in an energy bubble and blasted us out of the area. I wanted to help Chris fight the demon general but if I were to be honest, I was already reaching my limit and I think August and Nomir weren’t far behind. We stood strong, and valiantly fought the demon general as a trio but I doubt that we would have lasted 5 or 10 more minutes if I were to be generous. The energy bubble flew above the torn and heavily damaged city and from above it’s clear that the previous encounter with the US Army, FRUSI, and the on-going battle between the demons and the alliance has taken a heavy toll on the landscape and infrastructure around us. We crossed out of the demon veil and landed on our feet about 50 meters from the threshold. Not a minute later, members of the standby forces came to our aid. “Are you all okay?” Asked a worried vampire officer, he did not wait for our reply and continued, “Get me an elf healer here! We need healing and recovery spells.” “Any news from the others?” August asked as the three of us were being tended to by several elves. “None so far, no radio signals could get through the barrier, communication spells couldn’t get through either,” replied the vampire officer whom I later learn is named, Emilio. “How is it inside?” Asked a curious Akros member that stood beside Emilio. “Not good, it’s hard to explain but the place is totally gutted, and the air, god the air is filled with emotions I couldn’t even begin to describe,” replied a tired Nomir. The elvish healers were a great help, for 5 minutes they tirelessly cast healing and recovery spells one after another, I mean, I still felt tired, sore, and pain all over me but things have become more bearable. Not a moment after the last healing spell was cast, we noticed a vibration in the demon barrier and dozens of bright energy bubbles shot out of it. “The others are back,” Emilio noted as he indulged himself with a small smile at the thought that it wasn’t only our group that survived the encounter against the demon horde. Looking at the rest of the returnees, I saw tired and grim expressions on their faces, combat suits were tattered and most of our soldiers had cuts, bruises and were covered in either dust, blood or both. “We need more healers and medics!” ordered a werewolf agent not far from us. For the next few minutes, it was a flurry of action as elf healers and vampire and werewolf medics tended to the injured. Several elves were also restraining several of our peers that have been infected with the demon taint and were slowly turning into Anami. “There you are!” Said a relieved Rehanmir as he approached my group. The Crown Prince had a bandage on his head but he looked to be in better shape than most of us. Looking around he noticed the absence of his nephew, with a concerned expression, he asked, “Where’s Chris?” “He sent the three of us away when Azarahel became too much.” “Azarahel?” “The demon general, she’s powerful, more powerful than Yonthar,” I grimly replied, the tone of my disappointment at my inability, not being strong enough to help Chris was not easily missed. “Azarahel, she split her body in two, that’s how powerful she is, the three of us fought her other half while Chris fought the other one, when they merged, it became too much, Chris sent us away,” August chimed in, sitting a few feet away from where Rehanmir and I were talking. “We have to go back and help him,” I pleaded to the crown prince. “Chris sent us all away too. He initiated a large scale broadcast spell and told… no, ordered us to leave as soon as possible, he was very serious when he said it and there was no room to challenge his assessment of the situation. I’m just glad all other teams heeded his call, as you can see the rest of our soldiers are tired as well, but don’t worry, we will send a team back inside to help my nephew.” I was restless, and multiple thoughts buzzed through my head as I grew more anxious by the minute, I was worried for Chris, if Rehanmir doesn’t send an expeditionary team soon, I will take things into my own hands, I will not let Chris stay alone inside the demon territory, the thought of leaving him behind, the thought of losing him was too much for me to bear. Just as I was about to charge back into the demon zone, I felt a shift in the air, looking around, I noticed everyone else felt it too, then as I set my gaze upon the demon veil, its illusion of normalcy dissipated. The scorched remains of Fort Smith greeted us. I was surprised to see what stood in front of us, what was previously beyond the veil is completely desolate. The area that we left not more than half an hour ago is beyond recognition, yes, we left it in bad condition, but what remained of the city and its suburbs is a lot worse. All we could see where left damaged houses and buildings, is now ash and desolation inside where the barrier stood. “What the hell happened there?” Emilio gasped as he stared at the destruction in front of him. “It’s like a nuclear bomb exploded, there’s barely anything left!” Nomir said in awe. It took me several seconds to gather my wits, then I said, “We have to find Chris!” “Secondary teams 1 and 2, Follow me!” Prince Rehanmir shouted, and not a moment later, two teams of elves appeared in front of us, “We have one mission, and that is to find Prince Christopher,” the elves nodded in the affirmative. As the rescue teams set off, I said, “Wait, I have to come with you.” Rehanmir looked at me as if I was out of my mind, the recovery spells helped but I was in no fighting condition, however the crown prince saw the look of desperation in my eyes, and he relented, “fine, but if it comes to a fight, you leave it to us.” I only gestured to indicate I understood him. Scanning the area, it’s clear, whatever happened between our escape and the veil’s disappearance, was a major release of magical energy, the entire place is barren, and almost nothing remained. “Are you receiving a signal from Chris’ device?” I softly asked. “Yes, he should not be far away, and don’t worry, we’re receiving his vitals too, he’s alive.” Rehanmir smiled at me. I released a deep sigh of relief as confirmation of Chris’ life was announced. If there were any demons to stand between me and Chris, I sure as hell won’t let them get in the way, I have to see Chris now! We could have used a transport spell to fly towards Chris’ location but we couldn’t risk exposing ourselves in case any demons remained, So we trudged and made our way through the rubble of the once busy town center, and then I heard it, “Here! He’s here!” Said an elf as he pointed towards my boyfriend who seemed to be lying on his back. I mustered all that remained of my strength and ran towards my boyfriend but Prince Rehanmir beat me to Chris. Rehanmir softly touched Chris’ face and inspected his body as I took a position beside my sleeping prince, “how is he?” I asked. “He’s sleeping, tired I suppose, but as you can see, he’s not severely injured, well the scans show he only has light cuts and bruises, but the amount of energy he released must have been tremendous, don’t worry, we’ll get him to the realm and have our best see that he’s treated well. Sarad and Zenfar will not let anything bad happen to our precious prince.” I kissed Chris’ forehead and that’s all it took for me to start bawling, I cried, the emotional and mental strain at the thought of losing him was too much. Chris’ uncle comforted me by giving me a half hug from the side and patting my back, “don’t worry, he’ll be fine, I promise,” he said. The trip back to Greensburg was swift, and a few hours later, we were in the realm and a team of healers immediately whisked Chris away. William, Chris’ father joined me, the guy was worried sick for his son, I could only imagine how he was feeling. “Don’t worry, we have the best people looking after him now,” King ZoHal said to us. -- Chris’ POV I yawned and stretched as I regained consciousness, I half expected to wake in the middle of Fort Smith, the other half, well, I expected to wake up in Victor’s arms just like when I defeated Yonthar. However, looking around, I notice that I was in the middle of a field, and I apparently slept on a bed of flowers. The air was filled with the fragrance of flowers unknown to man, elf, or any other creature, the atmosphere hummed with energy, and the colors of every petal, leaf, actually, everything was as vibrant as they could possibly be, I don’t think there are even words to describe the colors I was seeing. Taking a deep breathe, in the silence, I could even hear the sky singing, it was dusk, or dawn, not sure but the stars were barely visible in the purple segments of the sky, looking into space I could feel even the stars singing to me, the music, barely audible, filled my heart and soul with comfort and peace, ‘am I dead?’ I thought to myself, ‘is this the afterlife?’ “You’re not dead, far from it actually,” announced a soft girl’s voice. I immediately stood and searched for whoever was talking to me. “Relax, you’re safe,” the girl added. Not a moment later, four figures appeared in front of me, a man, woman, boy, and girl. Then it hit me, “You were in my dreams, we’ve met before!” “Yes, we have, but during that time you were not ready, now you are,” replied the woman, her voice was serene and her face beautiful. “Who are you?” I asked, then I added, “Am I going to forget this again?” The older man chuckled, “We are emissaries of the flow, and no, you will not forget this time.” “Emissaries?” I curiously asked. “Dear child, you are in the Plane of Ascension, welcome!” added the girl. “The what? Is this the same place we’ve been meeting each other?” “No, this is different, previously we’ve visited you in your mind, this time, you are in a higher dimension,” replied the young boy. “So, I’m dead? This is heaven?” “No, it is not heaven, nor is this the afterlife, it is a place only beings, third ascended and above can visit,” said the woman. “What are you? And what’s a third ascended?” “We are emissaries of the flow, and that’s all you need to know,” answered the young boy. “You have recently reached the third level of ascension, that’s why you are here.” “Third level? I didn’t know Ascensions had levels,” I remarked in confusion. The four of them giggled at my state, then the older man clarified, “Ascension has seven levels, you possess three keys to full ascension, that’s why you are a third ascended.” “No one told me anything about this,” I replied. “Even the first and second ascended do not know, only the ones that reach third ascension receive a revelation.” “So, every royal is a first ascended?” I asked, recalling that every member of the royal family had an ascension ceremony. “No,” the girl tersely replied. “The ascension ceremony is merely that, a ceremony,” added the young boy. “What of these keys you mentioned?” I asked. “There are seven keys to full ascension, you’ve unlocked three,” the older man replied matter of factly. “And those keys are?” I asked to clarify. “There is no certain order to reach Ascension, except for the first step, the first is to be touched by the flow, and that’s something you have had since your ceremonial ascension, the second one is to be a wielder of magical vessels, the third, is to be the keeper of songs.” “So, I’m right, the ascension ceremony is the first ascension,” I said. “Not all elves receive the touch of the flow during their ascension,” the woman grinned at me. “What about the magical vessels and being keeper of songs?” “You just used four vessels, don’t you remember using The Shield of Maktar, The Sword of Tarud, The Ring of Eyaha, and Haldruin’s chains?” asked the boy. “Usually, one has to make their own vessel, but you instead used that of others, and that’s enough to be a second ascended, though I wouldn’t be surprised if later on you will craft a vessel for yourself,” explained the woman. “What are your names?” I asked. “We have none, we are mere creations of the flow to send messages,” said the girl. “Oh, okay,” I replied slightly confused, then I asked again, “And the keeper of songs? “You just used the Book of Songs, didn’t you?” Asked the man. Then memories of the tremendous amount of power I wielded in my battle against Azarahel, the book! “Evalta par Shazag,” I muttered, remembering the title of the once unreadable book. “The Book of Songs, holds tremendous power directly from the flow, use it well,” said the boy. “What are the other keys of Ascension?” I asked. “That we cannot answer, it is up to you to discover them,” the man replied. “However, what we can say is that you are at the cusp of unlocking two other keys,” added the woman. “You’re the first being to ever reach third ascension is thousands of years, and the first one so close to reaching fifth ascension so soon,” added the older man. “What about Patri and Gramps? Are they ascended too? They’re pretty powerful.” “Both are Second Ascended,” The woman replied. “Both are touched by the flow, and both have magic vessels of their own,” added the young girl. “Really?” I asked with a hint of excitement and joy at the thought of not being the only one in this ascension thing these people were spouting about, then I furrowed my brows, “what happens when I reach full ascension?” “You become one of the higher beings,” the boy tersely replied. “Did I defeat Yonthar because I was first ascended at that point? I remember not being myself at that time, I don’t think even a first ascended should be that powerful.” I remarked, then I added, “I don’t even feel like I was truly myself during the fight with Azarahel either.” “That’s not for us to answer,” the woman replied. “What now?” I asked, “Do I see you all again? Will I ever see this place again?” “We will see each other again if the flow permits, and yes, you will see this place again, as third ascended you have the right to be here,” the older man explained. Then just like that, everything started to blur, my body tingled, then everything disappeared. -- Regaining consciousness, I realize that I was lying on a very comfortable bed, the air smelled familiar and then it hit me, I was in the realm! My eyes shot open and I immediately tried to scoot up. “Chris!” Exclaimed my boyfriend who was sitting on a couch not far away from me. “Where am I?” I asked. “You’re in the palace’s medical bay,” he replied as he sat beside me, and placed a soft kiss on my cheek, “You had me worried, I thought I lost you,” he added misty eyed. I softly touched his face, then smiled at him, “I’m glad to be back, and I’m glad to see you, I love you Victor.” My words were met by my boyfriend’s soft lips as we gently kissed each other. “So, how long was I asleep?” I asked. Victor’s expression became serious, then he replied, “two and half days,” “What?!” “Yes, Sarad and Zenfar were sure you were alright and just tired, that battle must have taken a lot from you.” “You can say that again,” I muttered. I could see from the look on Victor’s face that he wanted to ask more questions, but he instead said, “You must be hungry, I’ll have the servants prepare food for you. I’ll also tell everyone that you’re awake, despite Sarad and Zenfar’s assurances, we couldn’t help but be worried for you,” he smiled at me. “Food sounds great,” was my only reply. -- Not even 15 minutes after waking, Dad, Patri, Matra, my uncles, Yal, and Etalos were all over me. Little was mentioned about my clash against Azarahel, instead, most asked about how I felt and if I had any pain and stuff like that, half the time I thought they were asking for their own peace of mind rather than just out of curiosity. I assured them that I felt fine as I ate my snack, but all of them needed to hear me tell them I felt fine several times for them to believe me. “My father is on his way, he’s worried sick about you,” Patri said as he touched my right arm in a soothing manner. “I am fine, really,” I replied. “We’ll have to wait for Sarad to give you the all clear before you can return to Greensburg,” Patri said. “But,” I started to protest, however, Patri’s stern look made me think twice about pushing my luck. “Your grandfather is right son, it’s better if you take is slow for now,” Dad said. “Fine…” I grumbled as I crossed my arms like a whiny teenager. Gosh, maybe Etalos was right, I do whine! I was left alone with dad and Victor, as my visitors left a few minutes later to give me some more time to rest. “How’s everyone else? I mean, how are our troops?” I asked Victor, as I suddenly remembered the joint effort of the three races to stamp out Azarahel’s machinations. Dad and Victor exchanged worried and grim looks, but both seemed to have come to an understanding, to tell me. It was Victor that first spoke, “Well, we won, you made that possible,” he gave a nervous chuckle, “but we lost quite a few of our own, and we barely rescued that many humans, it appears the demons pretty much snuffed the place out, the one’s we rescued are lucky to be alive, given another day or two I’m sure Azarahel would have drained them as well.” “How many did we lose?” I asked. “47, we lost 18 vampires, 16 werewolves, and 13 elves,” Victor somberly replied, he took a deep breathe, then continued, “More than 50 are seriously injured, the rest escaped with at least some minor injuries. Healers were able to contain the demon taint amongst 19 soldiers that were turning into Anami,” Victor sighed. “What about the humans?” “Aside from the ones at Phoenix Center, other teams were also able to rescue several hundred more, but in total, we only rescued 1,594 people.” “That city and its surrounding areas should have had at least 100,000 people,” I muttered. “Yes, seems like Azarahel did not hold back in harvesting souls.” “She called herself the soul demon, even the other generals don’t know about it. That’s why she’s so strong and split herself in two. She doesn’t only use human souls to make demons, she feeds off it as well. She could even use them to store energy, when I sent a large scale communication spell to tell the others to leave, Azarahel consumed a stone that had at least 10,000 souls in it. It turned her into an even more powerful beast,” I explained to dad and Victor, both of whom were awestruck by the gravity of the ordeal I went through. “Is that how she destroyed the entirety of Fort Smith? I mean I wasn’t there but the pictures and videos I’ve seen after the battle, well, the area is completely decimated, the government is working hand in hand with the VHC and WCC to cover up the entire thing but they can only do so much,” dad replied. “She didn’t destroy the city,” I tersely replied, remembering the destruction I rained upon the area. “What do you mean, Chris?” Victor asked. “I did that, I destroyed the place, I rained destruction upon it and snuffed all the life in it.” “Huh? You what? Sorry, I don’t understand,” Victor replied, puzzled at my statement. “Azarahel might have had her fair share in destroying the place, and so did the battles, but most of it, was because of me,” I said matter of factly, not sure how my dad and boyfriend will react to such news. “So, uhm, that’s how you defeated her? You had to destroy the place to destroy her too right?” Dad asked, almost in a stutter to clarify. “No, I did it to kill the remaining demons, and also to cleanse the place, I know there should be a better way to exorcise the darkness in the area but I’m not powerful enough to do it yet, I did the next best thing, and as to how I beat her? Well, just like Yonthar, I consumed her.” “Chris…” Dad said worried at the repercussions of me consuming another general. “Chris, you said so yourself, she was a powerful demon, and you consumed her when she was all powered up?” Victor exclaimed almost in a panic. “Don’t worry about me, you guys said so yourself, the test came out clean aside from a slightly heavier demon taint in me, I’m still within acceptable margins, right?” “Yes, you are but Chris, there are 7 more demons remaining, if you consume them all…“ Victor stammered, “I don’t think consuming the entire band of demon generals is a wise thing.” “Do we have another choice?” I shrugged my shoulders at the prospect of doing such a thing, “I’ll try to find a way around it, don’t worry it’s not as if I have to do it tomorrow right?” I nervously chuckled. After several more minutes, I told dad and Victor that I was tired and wanted to sleep, they nodded in understanding. Victor stayed on the couch to watch over me while dad returned to the house to tell everyone else that I was better. -- My nap was more than an hour and half long, and I felt even more refreshed when I woke up. I looked around the room, it seems Victor has gone out to do something. I turned on the TV and settled on a news channel. The female news anchor was on air with three “experts,” they were discussing the war against the demons. “It’s been more than two days since the Battle of Fort Smith, and we’ve barely had any news about his highness Prince Christopher,” complained a male contributor. “The palace did say he’s recovering,” added a female guest. “I really don’t think we should be meddling with the affairs of Earth, I say we leave them all be, we left Earth for a reason. We’re fine as it is, here in the realm,” opined another female guest. “Setyara, we all know that we can’t leave earth to its own devices, if the demons take over Earth, who is to say they won’t set their eyes on our realm,” the anchor said. “We lost several of our soldiers in that battle, and we nearly lost the Platinum Prince. How much more blood should our kind shed for a planet we no longer live in,” Setyara said, standing her ground. “The people are divided, we all want what’s best for the realm, but it seems we can’t decide on how to deal with this threat,” added another male guest. “To be fair, we thought the demons were long gone, and we haven’t faced this large of a threat since our people’s exodus into the realm, this is certainly a once in a lifetime event,” the anchor said. I put the TV on mute when I heard the door open, and in came a smiling Patri and Gramps just behind him. “How are you doing?” King Ethnar asked, he then glanced at what I was watching and let out a slightly annoyed huff. “Don’t let the news get to you,” he added. “I’m fine, and yeah, I figured I’d just let the people vent for now,” I smiled at them. “It is good to see, you are alright, goodness Chris, two demon generals, I don’t know how you do it but I am glad you are on our side,” King Ethnar teased. Then for the next 15 minutes, I talked to them about what transpired in Fort Smith, not every detail but enough for them to know about Azarahel’s skills and the destruction I rained upon the city. Then I decided to broach the topic of a true ascension to Patri and gramps, the emissaries might not have made themselves known to them, but I wasn’t forbidden to discuss this with them. I gave out a nervous laugh, then asked, “Do both of you have a magic vessel?” Patri and Gramps exchanged looks, then Patri asked, “What are you talking about?” “You know, an item of yours that holds a large amount of power, something only you know about?” I asked. “How did you know about…” Patri softly replied. Gramps gave me an inquisitive look then asked, “Does this have anything to do with how you defeated the generals?” “Yes, to some extent,” I replied. “I don’t know how you knew about it but actually, I do have an item, I have this trident that increases my strength by maybe 20 or 30%,” Gramps said, while Patri gaped at him, seems like even the son knew nothing about it. “Oh, ZoHal don’t tell me Chris is wrong, I assume you have an item of your own as well.” Patri took a moment to himself then still slightly surprised, he replied, “Yes, actually I have this circlet which also increases my powers.” “So, both of you have been holding back on me?” I lightly laughed. King Ethnar huffed, “I doubt using my trident would change the power asymmetry between the both of us, maybe before your ascension it would have made the difference, but now, without a handicap, I doubt I’ll ever beat you.” “Same, what dad just said,” King ZoHal meekly replied. “So, what’s this talk about these items? I swear I never told anyone about it.” King Ethnar said. “Those items are special, you’re both second ascended beings,” I tersely replied. “Second what?” Patri asked, confused. For the next 15 minutes, I discussed at length with Patri and Gramps everything I remembered from my conversation with the emissaries. To say they were shocked at the prospect of there being a seven step ascension process is an understatement. “I never knew, no records of such a thing exist,” Patri said in disbelief. “So, they say you’re a third ascended and at the cusp of being a fifth ascended?” King Ethnar asked. “Yes, but I really don’t know what the two other keys I almost have are.” “Goodness, I have lived this long and still you find ways to surprise me,” King Ethnar said in an amused tone. “So, what’s your vessel?” Patri curiously asked. “Actually, unlike the both of you, I didn’t craft one, but I do have access to some,” “Some?” Patri asked. “Yeah,” then as if it were second nature to me, I willed the Bracelet of Maktar and Ring of Eyaha to my left hand and wrist. “What are those?” King Ethnar asked. “It’s the Shield of Maktar and Ring of Eyaha, I have two more, the Blade or Sword of Tarud and the Chains of Haldruin.” “Four?!” Patri gaped at the thought of having 4 magical vessels. “And each one from the founders of each royal house,” King Ethnar shook his head in fascination, then he paused, then spoke again, “Chains of Haldruin?” “Yes, the very same chains that retrain my powers,” I replied. “So, you have full access to your powers now?” Patri asked. “I don’t think so, the chains pretty much still control them but it does sort of listen to me,” I shrugged. “When you recover, I think you should visit the tower again, this is a major development Chris, maybe now that you’re aware of this ascension process, the tower will give you access to information about it,” King Ethnar suggested. “I agree with my father, you should really look into this Chris,” Patri added. After several more minutes discussing the process of true ascension, the conversation became more lighthearted and it was decided, when Master Healer Sarad gives me the signal, I will return to Greensburg. -- I spent the night in the medical bay but was given the all clear to return home the following morning. Victor slept in the room as well, he refused to let me sleep alone. Seems like Victor’s still worried about me, but I really can’t blame him. When morning arrived, Patri, Matra and Uncle Selvenus checked on me, then after breakfast, Victor and I made our way to the portal and just like that I was back in good old Greensburg. Since we already ate in the realm, we only had dessert as everyone else ate dinner at home. Leo was present, so was Henry, both were relieved to see me in good shape. “Chris, you won’t believe how much better I feel to see you awake. I mean I visited you in the realm too, but now that you’re awake and back to your old self, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief,” Leo said as he hugged me from behind, while I was eating my chocolate sundae. Then Leo kissed me on my cheek, “You know I love you,” Victor gave us a smile and so did everyone else, then Leo realized what he just did, then clarified, “eww, not like that you pervs, he’s like a brother to me, that’s like incest or something,” “Actually, I wouldn’t mind,” Victor teased. I shot Victor my best glare, but he only winked at me. Hmm, maybe Victor was onto something, I mean, Leo’s hot, but so is everybody else in the house, oh no, this is a slippery slope, okay, change your train of thoughts Chris, think numbers, let’s do some math! I was taken out of my reverie, by Etalos nudging me, “We’re really happy you’re back,” he said. “So am I, so am I,” I warmly replied as I gave him a hug. -- “There will be a conference meeting between the alliance in a few hours,” Etalos said to me, he then paused, adding, “But I’m sure they will understand if you’re still unavailable.” “Don’t be silly Etalos, of course I will join. Who’s attending?” “Juan, Luigi, August, Olaf, and three proxies by other WCC members, then for the VHC, Reza, Luca, Victor, Victoria, and Jeppe. Prince Rehanmir, Yal, and Kalron will join you to represent the elves. While you were recovering, the alliance has had three meetings, I can give you a copy of what has been previously discussed.” “Please do Etalos. Seems like I have some reading to do.” “I can stay here with you as you read, I was in the meetings as well, you can ask me if you have any questions.” “Oh, I’d appreciate that,” Then for the next two hours Etalos and I went over the discussions of the alliance. It seems like the efforts to cover up the events in Fort Smith aren’t going as smooth as planned, but I mean, how can they hide such a thing, a hundred thousand people missing, more than a thousand American soldiers dead, and let’s not forget about an entire city being wiped off the map. The government thanked the alliance for rescuing whatever remained of Fort Smith’s civilian population, and it appears the alliance has blamed most of the damage in the place on the demon army, good thing the government accepted that with almost no question. The alliance has also discussed bolstering the group’s defenses and ability to respond to threats, a joint training facility will be opened in Seattle and Houston here in the United States, another one will be established in London and Rome as well. A possible base in Guangzhou and Bangkok is also up for discussion. With FRUSI utterly wiped out, the alliance will be directly dealing with US Military for the time being, as well as the Department of Homeland Security. The WCC and VHC have both reached out to their contacts in Canada and the EU and it appears, Canada’s Triton Command and the EU’s Centurion Force, are on board with closer cooperation with the Alliance, however, the news of the return of the elves is still something to be discussed with them. Discussion with China’s Jade Brigade, Japan’s Raijin Corps and Australia’s Paladin Council are in the works as well. I couldn’t help but snigger at the thought that FRUSI sounded so bad compared to its foreign counterparts. If the government’s going to re-establish FRUSI, I seriously hope they change its name.
  7. Chapter 110 – Songs of Magic It was early evening and information on the events transpiring in Fort Smith were trickling in by the minute. My household, together with Yal and Uncle Rehanmir gathered in my study, on video feed were Victor, Henry, Konrad, Reza, Luca, Victoria, and Jeppe for the VHC. Luigi, Juan, Olaf, and August were live as well, representing the WCC. “What’s happening in Arkansas?” Olaf said in a huff, he took an exasperated breath. “We can’t reach any of our agents in Fort Smith.” “Same goes for the vampires we had in the area, it appears communications are down inside that zone. The Governor of District 17 can’t reach any of his people there either,” Victor added “Same goes for us, we have several packs in the area, and none can be reached,” August reported. “We know so little about what’s really happening,” Victoria said, she clearly was worried for what was yet to come. “Any movements from the humans?” Reza asked. “It appears they’ve evacuated people from the immediate area around the affected zone. They’re telling the media that it’s a gas leak issue. Good thing the national media hasn’t noticed yet and the local news seems to have bought it, for now,” Kalron replied. “What do the scans say?” I asked Kalron for everyone’s benefit. “My team has confirmed that it is indeed demonic in nature. However, the energy bubble surrounding the affected area is not letting any signal in or out,” he replied. “So another general then?” Yal asked. “Most likely, there’s no other explanation for it. This could also be related to the waves of dark emotions I felt earlier, it happened almost at the same time we noticed the aberration in the energy scans,” I replied. “Damn, this one seems to be going all out eh? Whoever this demon is, has basically taken over an entire city,” Henry remarked. “Quite brazen if you ask me, I’m sure the humans won’t stand for it but I really don’t think they would stand a chance against such a powerful enemy,” Reza commented. “What do we do now?” Luigi asked. “We gather as much information as we can. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and heedlessly rush into things blind,” Uncle Rehanmir answered. “The humans should be warned,” Victor offhandedly said. “I agree, if they send FRUSI or the National Guard, I’m not sure that would do good,” Juan replied. “I will touch base with my contacts in FRUSI,” August volunteered as he started to scan his phone for contacts. “We have to mobilize our agents and prepare for the worst. The local alphas and vampire officers near the concerned area should be warned as well, we should evacuate them if necessary,” Victoria suggested. “I agree, the entire VHC will be on full alert,” Reza replied. “And so will the WCC,” Juan retorted. “Damn it, I can’t believe the second general would just show up like this,” I growled as I flopped on the couch in my study. “It can’t be helped, we knew they were out there somewhere and now another one has shown itself,” Etalos said as he joined me on the couch. My assistant was obviously afraid of what was to come, he was trying his best to calm himself, as but the light shaking in his hands told me of his struggle. I took a deep breath to clear my mind and calm myself, “Etalos…” I said, looking at the near panic stricken elf beside me, “I know you’re afraid, and so am I, but you’re right it can’t be helped. We just have to do what we have to do. We will deal with this, just like how we dealt with Yonthar,” I said as I tried to comfort my friend as I rubbed his back. “I sure hope so Chris, but I have this nagging feeling that this enemy is worse than Yonthar. Kalron said the spatial distortion in Arkansas is 30 kilometers across, that’s huge and must mean whoever is behind this is one powerful demon.” “Yeah, it’s a large area indeed, some of the energy bubble crossed into Oklahoma as well.” I said, thinking back to Kalron’s explanation about how the demon behind this has distorted the energy fields around the city. Several hours after the meeting, my phone rang. “What is it August?” I asked as I answered my phone. “The leaders of FRUSI are as stubborn as ever. They won’t listen to me.” “What do you mean?” “They’re moving forward, with a large expedition into the affected zone after midnight.” “So soon? But wait, do they even have the resources to do so? Last time I checked Yonthar dealt them a heavy blow.” “They’re putting everything into this and the new director of FRUSI is not budging, they are hell bent on resolving this matter as soon as possible. It appears, the organization sees this as an opportunity to redeem themselves from the Yonthar fiasco.” “What do they intend to do?” “They’ll be sending at least 300 agents to Fort Smith, the National Guard will be sending 200 of their own as well. If this mission fails, the army and air force have already been put on standby to intervene.” “That bad huh?” I huffed, “I don’t like this August, it’s going to be a total bloodbath.” “I know, and I have made the threat very clear to them but they refused to listen. Reza even directly contacted the secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security but no, they are hell bent on seeing this through.” “How are they going to explain the sudden military buildup?” I curiously asked. “Maybe some sort of training exercise, you know them and their cover-ups.” I sighed, “August, they will regret this decision, hundreds of lives will be lost.” “I know, but we can’t force them to back down, they might see it as a threat coming from us.” “I understand August, thanks for letting me know. Let’s just hope that we’re just being overly pessimistic and they do indeed succeed.” “I hope you are right Chris.” To say that I had a sleepless night, would be an understatement. “So any updates from the FRUSI mission?” Victor asked as he set his mug down on the kitchen table. “No, nothing, Kalron said that the mission proceeded as planned, FRUSI agents and National Guard troops entered the demon zone at 1:30 local time, the central command hasn’t heard back from them since.” “Let’s just hope it’s a communications issue.” Victor replied. “I don’t think so Victor, I mean, if they succeeded, then the veil surrounding Fort Smith should have vanished.” “You’re right. What now?” “It appears that the army and air force will be involved, Kalron and August informed me that a thousand troops have been mobilized, several air squadrons will be involved too.” “They’re really hell bent on finishing this as soon as possible eh?” “That appears to be the case. Kalron also informed me that an hour ago, missiles were launched into Fort Smith and as expected, they just disappeared, ground sensors did not indicate any explosions to have occurred inside.” “This isn’t good Chris.” “I know, if this new mission fails, I’m sure the government will relent and maybe listen to our advice.” I gave out an amused huff, “Your advice I mean, they still don’t know of our return.” “How’s the elvish preparation so far?” “Patri and Uncle Rehanmir have put the realm on high alert. More Akros agents and maybe a thousand or so Royal Guards are ready to cross via the New York Portal at any moment’s notice.” Looking at Victor, I asked, “How about on your end?” “Konrad is flying more Stratos agents into the country as we speak, capable vampires from across the country and even Canada and Mexico are also being recruited as well. Our existing pool from the New York joint training facility is too small for such a large threat.” “I agree.” “Kalron, any updates?” I asked as I went into Kalron’s office. Yal’s deputy was busy on his laptop typing and swiping away as he coordinated the intelligence gathering effort of the elves, vampires, and werewolves. “Yes, and it’s not good,” he replied as he shot me a foreboding look. “What is it?” I asked as I sat on the chair across him. “The demon bubble is expanding or rather, it expanded, yesterday it was 30 kilometers across, now it’s 35.” “Is it still spreading out?” “Not as of this moment but it could resume at any time, but I can’t say for sure, as we know so little about what powers its expansion.” “I have a theory. I think whoever is behind this has started to tap into the souls of the tens of thousands of people inside, we already know how demons multiply using human souls, and maybe they’re harnessing it in some way to power this bubble too.” “That could certainly be a possibility.” “Have the others been informed of this expansion? We should do something about it before it gets out of control. If we let this go, we don’t know how big this zone will become.” “I already sent word to the VHC and WCC.” “The US Military failed,” August bluntly said, as everyone was coming into the video feed a few minutes later. “What? Uh what do you mean?” I stumbled to ask. “The joint army and air force mission that was supposed to be their second line of defense after FRUSI, it failed. At least a thousand soldiers, lost. The air force lost several attack helicopters and fighter jets as well. I honestly don’t know how they will explain this to congress, let alone the public, this could be America’s largest military blunder since the Vietnam War. “Just like that? A thousand wiped out?” Konrad asked. “Yes,” August grimly replied. “What now?” Reza asked. “I guess now it’s time we intervene. I doubt the US Government will have any qualms with that, especially with the mess of this military failure, August retorted, with a high level of certainty. “Any updates on the demon zone Kalron?” Konrad asked. “No sir, it has remained stable at 35 kilometers across for the past few hours.” “Let’s hope it remains that way for the time being,” Konrad replied. “The humans should evacuate more people away from the area, we don’t want any more civilians put at risk, especially now that we know the bubble may further expand,” Uncle Rehanmir said. “I will reach out to the Governors of Oklahoma and Arkansas to widen the civilian buffer zone, I will suggest a 10 kilometer mandatory evacuation perimeter,” Reza remarked. “Our guards will help your agents with the mind manipulation to ensure there’s minimal resistance from the human populace.” Uncle Rehanmir said. “That’s certainly appreciated, we only have so many vampires with the skill to influence.” Reza retorted. “Let’s convene again in 6 hours so that we can plan our next move. Let’s use the next few hours wisely,” Uncle Rehanmir suggested. “Agreed.” The next few hours were hectic, people were coming in and out of the portal to fix and organize stuff for the elvish plan of action. In the meeting earlier, it was decided that each race will shore up their troops and prepare a detailed audit of what they could offer to the three-way alliance. To say that my uncles, and Yal were busy would have been an understatement. Patri even mobilized the realm’s High Circle to bolster the barriers, we didn’t want any negative energy to leak into the realm. We did not want to take any chances, having such a large amount of demon energy accumulate around Fort Smith might lead to unwanted effects in the realm. In the middle of the night, the representatives of the alliance convened again. Joining me to represent the elves was uncle Rehanmir and Yal. For the VHC, Reza, Konrad, and Victor while Luigi, Juan, and August stood for the WCC. Kalron was also present to provide intelligence as necessary. “We have to address this issue as soon as possible,” Reza intoned with a steely expression. “I agree, this will just get worse if we let things be,” Luigi replied. “How soon can we mobilize our forces?” August asked. “I have discussed matters with several clan and pack alphas, the most optimistic timeline for us is 24 hours,” Juan replied. “Same goes for the vampires, 24 hours would be best timeframe we could offer,” Konrad retorted. He sighed, then went on, “as it is our existing number of people from the joint training facility is not enough, we have to gather people from across the country.” “We can mobilize our forces within 24 hours as well, as of now, we are limited by the number of people that can simultaneously crossover using the New York portal.” My uncle replied. “Kalron, any results from the drones we sent into the demon zone?” Yal asked. “No sir, we immediately lost contact the moment the drones crossed the threshold into demon territory.” “I see,” Yal tersely replied, as he crossed his arms. “How do we go about this?” Reza asked. “I suggest we work just like last time, a coordinated three pronged attack against the enemy,” Luigi replied. “The logistics of mobilizing such a large amount of people on short notice will be a nightmare, but we will make it work. I’m sure we can borrow some resources from the US Government as well, I don’t think they’re in any position to refuse us at this point,” Konrad said. For the next hour or so, the group discussed the details of the alliance’s attack into Fort Smith. We gave ourselves a little bit more than 24 hours to launch the assault. It was decided that the attack will be at daybreak, the day after tomorrow. Konrad, Luigi, and my uncle will each lead a contingent. Konrad’s contingent will be mainly composed of vampires, with elves in supporting roles. Luigi will lead a group of werewolves, with elves in supporting roles as well, while my uncle will lead an entirely elvish contingent. Each contingent will be composed of 3 groups, with each group having 12 teams, each having 8 members. For the vampires and werewolves their teams will each have 6 from their own kind with 2 elves to help with magical attacks and defense. In total there will be 108 teams involved. In total there will be 864 people involved, 432 elves, 216 vampires, and 216 werewolves. These figures exclude the people we will put on standby that number into the low hundreds. It also excludes the members of a special attack team, whose primary goal is to find and kill the demon general involved. The special team is composed of myself, Victor, August, and Nomir. Konrad’s contingent will attack from the west, Luigi’s from the east, while my uncle’s from the south. I honestly found it quite amusing that at least half the force will be composed of elves, but I guess it can’t be helped, despite their enhanced strength and speed, and occasional special skills with vampires, the other two races are weak when it comes to magical abilities, and demons are very much in tune with dark magic. The following day, we flew to Little Rock, using the city as the alliance’s staging area, along with Tulsa in Oklahoma. Before leaving, Greensburg, I enhanced the house’s defensive spells and made sure Dad and Leo stayed put. I asked Henry, Troy, and Mark to stay there as well, just in case a surprise attack was launched in Greensburg. You can never be too careful. I was restless the entire day, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy about what was to come. I mean this surely will be the largest magical battle in at least the last few centuries. “Chris, you’re fidgeting,” Victor said, as he pulled me in closer to his side. “Yes, I guess I am, but I can’t help but be nervous Victor,” I whispered to him. “I am too.” “Promise me you will be careful,” he said as he put his hands on my head to make me look straight into his eyes. “I can say the same thing to you. Victor, I don’t want you to get hurt,” I said, eyes misting. “I definitely will be careful.” “Remember, the moment I ask you to retreat, you retreat okay? When I tell you to leave, you leave,” I said with finality. The look on my face told him that subject was not up for debate. Victor nodded, and sighed, “Yes, but don’t be rash okay?” he said as he slowly caressed my face, the look in his eyes screaming love and devotion. “Kalron, what is it?” I asked as I answered a call from Kalron. “Chris, the demon bubble expanded again, it’s now 37 kilometers across.” “When did this happen?” “Just a few minutes ago.” “Were any civilians affected?” “Yes, maybe 30 or 40, they are some of the people that refused the evacuation orders, and were not reached in time by our agents for mind suggestion.” I sighed and clicked my tongue, “I see, it can’t be helped, make sure the others know, I’m sure this change will affect how the teams will position themselves prior to entry into the zone.” “Yes, of course Chris.” “Let’s just hope it doesn’t get any bigger.” “I agree with you.” With the continued efforts of the VHC, WCC and several agents from the civil guard, we were able to make sure the national media did not take notice of the recent events in Fort Smith. Whatever news has leaked out has been contained at the local level and the recent buildup of military hardware in the area has been made to appear as part of a military drill. However, I am sure the deaths of the more than a thousand troops from the military and FRUSI will be harder to deal will later on. Questions will certainly be asked by their families. Let’s also not forget, the likely physical damage the upcoming battle in Fort Smith will result in. I’m sure such a clash among strong opposing forces will leave scars and lasting damage. I can only hope that this battle will end in our favor. I tried my best to rest and sleep that night, but I could only muster 2 hours of sleep. I was on edge and so were the rest of the people around me. We left Little Rock several hours before dawn in a convoy of armored cars and trucks. Most elves in this mission were dressed in black or white magically enhanced battle suits, made of the finest and strongest fabrics from the realm. Each elf had with them a 5 feet long combat staff, used by elves to enhance spell casting strength and precision. Vampires and Werewolves were dressed in dark composite material uniforms, all wielding a semi-automatic rifle supplied by vampire and werewolf companies involved in the arms industry. Each vampire and werewolf had knifes for close quarter combat as well. Despite having superhuman strength and speed, the other races, unlike the elves, couldn’t afford to leave themselves defenseless when it came to modern weaponry. Just before sunrise, we found ourselves at the edge of the demon territory. As the sun rose in the sky, it’s easy to be fooled by the illusion of the demon barrier, looking into the other side, all we were able to see empty buildings and houses. Nothing out of the ordinary except its eerie emptiness. However, if you look close enough, you can see a slight distortion in the light, a faint clue, that hinted that something was indeed amiss. At around 7:15 a.m. engines revved up and our respective groups made a beeline towards the demon inhabited area. Crossing the threshold, the changes were immediately felt, a dark foreboding presence made itself known, the air was awash in a malevolent aura that is hard to describe. Looking out the windows of our armored vehicle, the illusion of normalcy was gone, what we saw were damaged buildings and cars, broken windows, burnt houses, bent metal, and cracked concrete. The driver made a conscious effort to navigate the nearly unnavigable road. Not even two kilometers into enemy territory, we had to get out of our vehicle, the road was choked by the remains of dozens of military trucks and armored vehicles. It was obvious, the army stood no chance against what attacked them, not even a single body was visible from the wreckage we saw in front of us, all that remained were the tousled remnants of what would have been a valiant military effort. Getting out of the car, the acrid smell of burnt rubber, metal, and maybe even flesh wafted through the air. The miasma of a hidden dark aura lingered in our senses. Looking up into the sky, all we could see were dark and ominous clouds, markedly different from the clear skies of beyond the veil. Thunder roared through what would otherwise be a silent domain. The contingents entered from the same direction but entered separately as a group, meaning 12 teams entered together, being on a team of our own, and not part of a group, we directly reported to my uncle. “Uncle, can you hear me?” I asked via a communication spell. “Yes, I can. How are you guys doing?” “We had to leave the vehicle, the roads are blocked.” “Same here, we did not get even a mile into the barrier before we ran into obstruction.” “Okay, I’ll let you know if we find or bump into anything significant. Stay safe uncle.” We walked deeper into demon territory and the silence was unnerving, add on top of that, the eerie atmosphere just made it even worse. “Damn, what did they do to this place,” August remarked as he looked around the damaged buildings around us. “They completely wrecked the area.” Nomir replied as he looked on. 15 or 20 minutes later, making a bit of progress, we hear loud explosions from the distance. “W1 has made contact, enhanced humans and Anami” we hear, via a spell from an elf member of the werewolf’s first group. Not a moment later, several more explosions. “V1 has made contact, enhanced humans and Anami” “E2 has made contact, Anami and demons.” “E3 contact, Enhanced humans.” The communication spells continued as more and more groups made contact with the enemy. Our team made an active effort to hide from view, a powerful cloaking spell by me enhanced our chances of minimizing contact until we were much deeper into enemy territory. “It seems like all groups have been engaged, except us.” Victor remarked as the last group confirmed contact with the enemy. “None have even made it more than 5 kilometers into the zone,” Nomir replied. “Yeah, seems like we’re the ones deepest. How far in are we?” I asked. “7.7 kilometers,” Nomir replied as he continued to cautiously eye our surroundings. The explosions from the distance continued as the opposing forces engaged each other in battle. “How do we find the general?” August asked. “The darkness seems to get stronger the farther in we go. I believe that’s where the general is. I will cast a tracing spell to help us have an easier time,” I replied. “If you cast that, won’t there be a chance for the general to be able to trace you back,” Victor replied, concerned at the prospect of being caught off guard by a powerful demon general. “If he or she comes to us, even better,” I grinned. I cast a powerful tracing spell to locate the source of the dark aura, and the effects were immediate, in my eyes I could see a faint purple line guiding us towards our goal. “Uncle, any updates?” I asked, concerned for the rest of our troops. “E1 and E2 have defeated the first wave, E3 is still engaged but Yaznal has informed me that he is sure they will win.” “That’s good, how are the others doing?” “V2 and W3 have made it through, the rest are still in active battle. How are you four doing?” “Seems like my cloaking spell is working, the Anamis we’ve seen flying above have ignored us.” “Good, keep at it, stay hidden as long as possible.” “Will do.” “How are the others doing?” Victor asked as I ended my conversation with my uncle. “E1, E2, V2, and W3 are through the first wave, the rest are still engaging the enemy.” “Hmm, at least we’re faring better than the humans.” Victor retorted, as he pointed toward the remains of a crashed military helicopter not far from us. We were approximately 9 kilometers into the demon zone, when I felt my cloaking spell break. “What the hell?!” I said. “What is it Chris?” Nomir asked. “Someone broke through my cloaking spell. We’ve been found.” “Shit. Who could have possibly done that?” Victor asked. It wasn’t long for us to realize who did, about 500 or 600 feet away from us on top of a three story building stood a group of 7 demons. I’m sure they were acting as scouts and if they worked together, it would not have been impossible for them to break through any type of cloaking magic. “Demons.” I said as I pointed towards the group of demons eagerly making their way towards us, and boy were they fast. They jump across the roofs of buildings with incredible speed and ease, which made them appear to blur. “They’re strong,” Nomir remarked as he observed our incoming opponents. “Alpha-1, contact, demons,” I said through a communication spell. “Be careful,” was my uncle’s only reply. “They should be at least high silver level or low gold level by the looks of it.” I said as I watched our enemies. “Leave them to us Chris,” Victor said with a smirk, “They’re strong, but we’re stronger and you, well, you’re way stronger.” “They outnumber you though. Be careful.” “We will be.” Several seconds later, the 7 demons dropped to the ground from the top of the buildings not more than a few dozen feet from us. “Oh my, what do we have here?” a female demon smirked as she shot us a sinister glare. “Props to them for making it this far,” chuckled a male demon. “I sense an elf amongst them, they used a powerful cloaking spell.” Added another female demon. “Enough chit chat, let’s kill them. Maybe we can make them into new Anami, the master wants us to make more.” Chimed in another demon. And not a second later, they all launched themselves at us. August met them with equal strength and speed while Victor worked on weakening them through mental attacks. Nomir on the other hand launched a litany of earth spells at the enemy. It did not take long for the entire thing to devolve into a 7 – 3 battle as I watched. August took three demons together, Victor fought two and Nomir the last two. Watching them fight the demons and keep up with them was a sight to marvel, I knew they were strong but oh boy, they have certainly improved, my team mates are certainly not people you should trifle with. The demons launched multiple attacks of dark energy balls and beams but August and Victor were able to easily dodge them, Nomir on the other hand used earth walls to protect himself. While the fight went on, Victor’s constant mental attacks took their toll on our opponents, they started growing slower and weaker by the second. After the demons started to show signs of weakness, it did not take long for my friends to finish the job. That’s seven demons out of action and dead. “Good job guys,” I said proudly grinning at my friends. “Like I said, they were strong, but we’re stronger,” Victor replied as he winked at me. “Show off,” I blurted. “Hmm, I’m sure you’ll do better later on,” he quipped. “Did you get anything from them?” I asked Victor. “Yes, but not much, their master is general, Azarahel. They have already harvested the souls of thousands of humans, there should be more than 300 or 400 demons around here, but with the losses they’ve incurred since the battle began, I’m not sure how many remain.” “Fuck, thousands already harvested?” “Yes.” “But there should be at least a hundred thousand people in this area, where are they keeping the rest?” I asked. “From what I’ve gathered they’re keeping several hundred at the Phoenix Center west of town. Not sure where they are keeping the rest.” “Konrad’s contingent is nearest that place, I’ll let them know,” I replied. I then cast a communication spell towards Konrad and said, “We have information, there are several hundred civilians being kept at the Phoenix Center, your contingent is the closest.” “Copy that Chris, we’ll get there as soon as we can. We’re just about a kilometer and a half away.” “Thanks Konrad, be careful.” “You too.” I recast my cloaking spell and continued to follow the trace towards the demon general, however it did not take long for the general or generals rather to find us. Fuck, I thought there was only 1 general but how come there are two powerful beings flying towards us. “Victor, August, Nomir, get behind me, Azarahel has found us.” I said. The waves of darkness emanating from the creatures closing in on us, was like no other. The closer they were the more sinister the air became. “Fuck, they’re powerful,” Nomir remarked as streaks of purple light flew towards us. The generals did not even wait to reach the ground, they both launched a barrage of dark spells at us. I immediately conjured an energy barrier around us. The shield vibrated and hummed as powerful energy balls made contact and exploded near us. “I’ll take on one, you guys handle the other one.” I said. My friends only nodded in recognition of my command. As the dust settled, what stood in front of us were two beautiful ladies of what appeared to be Middle Eastern descent. Both were dressed in tight fitting combat uniforms. “My my, what a powerful shield you have there,” the lady on the right remarked. “Not an ordinary shield if you ask me,” replied the one from the left. “Who are you?” I asked. They both sniveled and sneered at that, “I am Azar,” replied the one on the left, “I am Ahel,” added the one on the right. They looked similar however Azar was slightly taller and had shorter hair. “I thought generals didn’t work together,” August whispered to me. “I thought so too.” I replied. “Congratulations on making it this far. However, we can’t let this continue, what we have here is just the beginning. This world is filled with so much negative energy, it’s basically begging for us to rule over it,” Ahel said with a lecherous leer. In almost an instant both demons appeared in at the cusp of my barrier, and with a coordinated attack they punched right through it. My three friends took on Azar while I took on Ahel. On my peripheral vision, I can see Victor, August, and Nomir work hand in hand to match Azar’s blows. “Eyes on me, young one.” Ahel said as my momentary distraction gave her an opening. It happened so fast I did not even realize what hit me, until I was groaning as my back hit the cracked wall of a building. “You’re quite the sturdy man aren’t you?” She sneered, “Stupid too for taking me alone.” I grinned at her, “You don’t know what you’re talking about lady,” I said as I launched fire and water based attacks one after another. I even used earth magic to protect myself from Ahel’s counterattacks. “Mutliple elements?!” She said in shock. “That’s not all,” I retorted as I released an 18-layered Magnus Spell against her. Ahel’s barrier broke instantly and my spell sent her flying into a building. The building crumbled as my spell released a powerful explosion. I reached out with my senses through the wreckage, and Ahel’s presence was undiminished. The rubble moved and a second later, Ahel stood almost undamaged aside from a scratch here and there. “You’re strong,” she remarked, “but I am way stronger, I am a general of the demon race, boy!” She screamed as she flew towards me. I caught her punch with my right hand but her fist burst into a powerful blast. I was thrown to the ground and before I knew it, Ahel was launching beam after beam towards me. I conjured a shield around me, and took the brief moment to see how my friends were doing, they were still fighting Azar but the strain was obvious on their faces, I had to help them. I conjured 3 earth and 2 ice golems to help them. The golems were barely silver level but the extra help will be certainly welcomed by my friends. “You should think first about yourself before you think of your comrades, you’re barely holding your own,” Ahel said to me as the barrage of attacks continued against my shield. “Let’s see about that.” I teased. I closed my eyes and reached into the depths of my power, and deep inside I could feel the ocean of energy within me, I took a deep breath and implored the chains to give way and lend me more strength. The chains listened and immediately I was flooded with a large amount of energy, my skin tingled and I was glowing bright silver at this point. “What…” Ahel said in shock. “You were saying,” I teased. I opened my right hand and directed a 25-layer Magnus Spell towards her. The general barely had the time to react as the beam of energy hit her, driving her into a building almost a hundred feet away. Looking at the road, I can see the damage my beam has left, the heat and pressure coming off the beam that flew not more than 5 feet above the ground, shredded the road and left a deep smoking gash. “Ahel!” Azar screamed as she saw the other general fall, “You will pay for this, now you’ve done it.” She sneered. Azar approached the rubble of the building where Ahel fell, and to my surprise, Ahel was still conscious, and quite mobile. Ahel shot me a teasing smile, then before hugging Azar, she said, “Now you die.” As the generals hugged, a blinding red and purple light consumed them. I held my hands in front of me to protect my eyes and what came after was even more surprising. What stood in front of us was a single lady, that bore the features of Azar and Ahel. “Azarahel, pleased to meet you,” the woman coldly said. She shot my three companions a look and with a psionic attack sent them flying towards a truck. “I believe this fight is between you and me, elf!” she added. “So you were just a single demon after all.” I commented. “Yes, I am too powerful to be contained in a single body for long periods of time. However, I recognize you as someone worthy of witnessing my true strength,” the demon said to me. The road buckled and rocks started floating in the air as the demon approached me. I realized the gravity of the situation, and didn’t even hesitate to cast two 15-layered Magnus spells from each of my hands. The beams of energy converged on Azarahel as she created a barrier around herself. The street was enveloped in bright light as my beams tried to break through her protection. I breathed a sigh of relief as her shields broke, after which I heard a loud explosion. My double attack left a large crater in the street and the buildings shook and teetered on the verge of collapse around us. As the dust started to settle, I was aghast to see the shadow of a standing woman. “That hurt!” Azarahel snarled, as she flew towards me, she formed a dark ball of energy on her hands and released a dark beam of red and purple energy towards me. My barrier instantly broke and I was sent more than a hundred feet into the air, before I realized I was falling, I was hit by a bombardment of attacks. I barely had time to recover and think, fuck! The onslaught was unrelenting and I honestly felt that I was about to die. Seconds later, I fell to the ground, groaning and whimpering. Azarahel approached me and I could see that my previous attack has at least injured her. I felt my chains give way more and another surge of energy flooded me, and with that I found the strength to jump away from the demon in front of me. “I see you’re still alive,” she smiled at me, “not for long.” I launched a powerful 12-layered fire-based Magnus Spell towards her, she didn’t have the time to escape. The fire consumed her in a pillar of flames as she screamed in pain. “You will pay for this! I will not take any more insult from a mere elf!” she said, as she broke free from my fire spell and attacked me. The attacks coming from Azarahel did not stop as I kept up with her punches and kicks in lightning speed. While we were trading blows, something happened inside me, I felt the chains continue to give way and then I felt my first tattoo tingle. The tattoo of the House of Maktar shined and then the bracelet that triggered the tattoo appeared on my left wrist. Then my second tattoo did the same, and not a moment later, The Blade of Tarud was in my right hand. With a powerful burst of energy I sent Azarahel flying away from me. I pumped energy into the bracelet and was surprised to see it transform into a circular shield, I did the same to the blade, and it turned into a long sword. As Azarahel recovered from my attack, she was surprised to see the things I had in hand, “Where did you get those?!” “Why? Recognize any of these?” I teased. She groaned in anger as she conjured a dozen hell hounds in front of her. The hounds were the size of large bulls and were covered in black and purple flames. The hell hounds did not waste time, attacking me, but I slashed through them with ease. “You will pay for that!” She said. Azarahel then started chanting and the clouds above us rumbled and swirled. In the middle of the spinning clouds, came a large black serpentine dragon made of dark energy. The dragon roared and its scream shook the earth. “Guys! Get out of here!” I said to my three companions, “It’s not safe.” “But…” Victor complained as he was helping Nomir on his feet. “I will be okay, just go!” I formed an energy bubble around them and sent them flying away. The demon dragon launched itself towards me as I heard Azarahel laugh from the distance, “This will be your end!” she said with certainty. But before the dragon made contact with Maktar’s shield, My third tattoo tingle and shined and the ring of Eyaha appeared on my left ring finger, and from it came another surge of energy. Feeling rejuvenated, I hurled myself towards the dragon, I slashed it multiple times much to Azarahel’s horror. “How?” she asked in disbelief, as her beloved dragon disintegrated right before her eyes. Her expression of surprise turned sour and she lunched a powerful beam of dark energy towards me. However, Maktar’s shield held on and it redirected the beam towards the structures nearby. Azarahel was more than angry now, she gave me a vile look as I felt her pull more energy to the surface. She transformed into her demon form, now slightly more muscular, with three horns, red eyes, and a long thin tail with a sharp edge. With a loud roar, the demon flung herself towards me, but the relics from the three houses helped me keep her at bay. I found an opening, and was able to throw the demon several feet away from me. The three relic’s disappeared to my alarm but my fourth tattoo activated itself, and I felt the chains rustling and moving inside me, then on the palm of my right hand shot out a long golden and silver chain. The chains of Haldruin, the chains flew through the air and coiled around the whimpering demon. “I think, this is where you end.” I said to her. With the demon immobilized, I took a moment to concentrate on a 30-layered Magnus Spell. I sent my Magnus spell rushing through the chains and Azarahel was consumed by a bright white flame. Azarahel dropped to the ground and then the chains returned inside my body. I was surprised to find the demon still breathing, she was weak, but still alive, damn, she’s tough. Azarahel gave me a weak smile then said, “out of tricks young elf?” “Huh?” “You might be wondering why I’m so strong, well the secret is not only have I used countless human souls to create my army, I have also consumed them myself. Throughout our fight, I must have burned through more than a thousand, if it weren’t for them, I would have surely been defeated by now.” “What?” I asked, in equal disbelief and revulsion at the idea of her using souls as a source of power. “They don’t call me the soul demon for nothing, that is my secret, a secret I have never shared with my fellow generals.” “Then why are you telling me this?” “Because, you’re going to die anyway,” she said as the staggered to her feet. “I don’t think you’re in any position to say that,” I quipped. “Oh believe me young boy, you haven’t seen the last of me.” Then she pulled put a dark stone out of nowhere and out of it I felt waves upon waves of pain and despair. I jolted back as the dark presence made itself known, “can you feel their pain?” she teased, “I have ripped out the souls of maybe ten thousand humans for this, I have distilled their pain into this stone of despair.” Azarahel slowly caressed the dark stone on her hand, then she shot me a knowing grin, “Thanks for the fight, but this is where you die.” I watched in fascination as the demon pushed the stone into her chest. For several seconds Azarahel squirmed and writhed in discomfort, then the effects of the stone kicked in, Azarahel grew larger, and now stood maybe 25 or 30 feet tall, her skin scaly, and her eyes crimson red, her tongue now forked like a serpent, and her tail now larger than before, she even grew large bat like wings. “Tell your people to get away from here” I hear from a voice in my head. “There’s no time to ask, she is dangerous, get your people away, now!” added another. I did not question the intention of the voices, I cast a large scale communication spell, “Get away from the zone now! Elves, use transportation bubbles to get your teams back to the edge of the veil, this is an order, do it now!” I screamed into their heads. Azarahel looked around as if to get used to her new form, the air was heavier now, and even more vile. Looking through the distance, I see streaks of bright white light flying away. I breathed a sigh of relief as I realize everyone heeded my call. Azarahel let out a loud roar and the buildings around us crumbled from the sheer power of her scream. The demon opened her mouth and breathed purple flames across the area, “This is my final form, you stand no chance,” she said. Her voice was deep, and demonic at the same time. I launched a 20-layered fire based Magnus Spell from my right hand and another 20-layered water based Magnus Spell from my left. My attack pushed Azarahel several feet back but it was evident that the damage was barely enough to slow her down. The demon clapped both her hands in the air, then a large ball of dark energy formed on her hands. She started a demonic incantation, which only sent shivers down my spine. It was as if she was calling a greater darker power from beyond, the accumulation of negative energy in the air was palpable, and if it weren’t for the adrenaline, I’m sure I would be heaving my guts up in sickness right now. From the dark energy mass, a large dark reptilian eye appeared, “Eye of Darkness!” She screamed, as a powerful beam of light flew toward me. I barely escaped, but good thing I did, coz a powerful explosion destroyed several blocks not more than a mile away from me, where the attack hit as it missed me. Azarahel redirected her gaze towards my new position, the reptilian eyes, still looked straight at me, “Peer into the darkness beyond!” she teased. The eyes squinted a bit and then I felt a dark energy take possession of my being. I couldn’t move and my muscles refused to budge. All my energy suppressed. I floated helplessly in the air as a large amount of malevolent energy burrowed deeper into me. My four tattoos were brilliantly shining, but whatever magic Azarahel, or the eye has cast upon me, is successfully restraining my power. I heard wails, cries, and screams of agony as I stood unmoving in the air. ‘So this is the power of despair huh?’ I thought to myself as I considered the inevitability of my death. As the darkness continued to consume me, I couldn’t help but embrace the pain of hundreds if not thousands of hopeless souls. At some point I caved in, and even came to relish the very nature of the pain. As I accepted my fate, something else awakened in me. “So how does it feel to be consumed by the pain of lost souls,” Azarahel teased. The eye in the dark ball continued to observe me as it poured more and more of the darkness into me. “I feel nothing,” I coldly replied. I was surprised to find myself being able to reply, but I was also hit with the sudden realization that the voice was not mine and that it appears that my consciousness has distanced itself from whoever was wrapped under Azarahel’s spell. Azarahel gasps in surprise, and the eye showed surprise as well. I broke free from the spell with a burst of black energy of my own. “How… how, impossible!” Azarahel said, alarm clear in her voice, the eye in the dark ball she was holding stared, surprised as well. “How dare you lay a hand on me.” I replied, my voice cold and distant and still not my own, “creatures like you could only hope to match me. You need to remember your place.” Azarahel growled then breathed purple flames on my body. However, the flames did nothing to me. “Is that all?” I asked. Azarahel held tighter to the dark ball she had in hand and said, “Eye of Darkness!” Dark energy started to engulf my body again, but not more than a few seconds later, they were extinguished by my very presence. “Foolish!” I said. Azarahel stood surprised and gaped at me. “My turn,” I coldly remarked. I pointed my right index finger towards the sky, a small dark ball of energy formed on its tip, “I cannot offer salvation, all I have for you is destruction.” A dark beam of energy shot towards the clouds from my finger and the clouds rumbled and glowed red and orange. Not more than a second later, hundreds of bright energy beams rained down on the entire territory, and deep inside I knew those beams were making their way towards every single one of the 309 demons that remained in Azarahel’s territory. It was as if it rained fire, but it was way worse than that, what I called upon was the rain of divine retribution. Loud explosions could be heard across the land, as each of the beams hit and killed all of Azarahel’s demons without fail. “Impossible,” Azarahel stood in shock and awe. Then in front of me, I conjured the unreadable book that I have tirelessly attempted to decipher. I knew I was supposed to be surprised but then again I felt detached from the entire situation. “This place is tainted, it is beyond redemption,” I said, the scripts on book were now shining bright silver. “Third Song of Destruction, verse 1 to 7,” I flatly said. Then almost instantly a duet of foreboding music from a violin and cello echoed through the air. Each note sending a powerful vibration throughout the land. “What are you doing?” Azarahel said as the events unfolding in front of her, kept her from moving. “What is the point of telling you? You will never comprehend the magnificence of what you are witnessing.” I callously and distantly replied. As the song reached its peak, the buildings and structures shook, the grass and trees wilted, it did not take long for everything to catch fire. By the end of the song, we stood in a desolate land. Ashes floating in the air, buildings burnt beyond recognition, vegetation nonexistent. Azarahel snapped out of reverie, but the eye she was holding looked at me with much trepidation. The demon general conjured dozens of black energy balls in front of her and threw them at me. Not even a single attack made it close, as they all disintegrated into thin air. I gave her a disinterested look, then flipped towards another page of the book, “Second Song of Death, Verse 1 to 12.” Then ominous music from horns and drums filled the air. “What are you doing to me?” Azarahel said in a panic, her dark ball now extinguished and her body shaking from the magic of the song. I ignored her question as I allowed the music to reach its peak. As the song continued, the entire area was engulfed in a sea of black flames while Azarahel started to break apart into fragments of dark energy. I watched in cold blood as the demon general died in front of me, ripped apart into shreds similar to how she has ripped apart the souls of thousands of innocent lives. “Fourth Song of Death Verse 1 to 8,” I said as I floated alone in the empty expanse of the now destroyed city. A slow yet powerful song emerged, with a piano playing at its very core began. As the song continued, the fragments of Azarahel that yearned for their return to the flow were instead sucked into my body. As the song ended, I fully absorbed Azarahel just like I did with Yonthar. Moments later I was knocked out of my trance like state, and fell to the ground. I landed with my back on the ground, Looking straight up as I witnessed the clouds part, letting sunshine through. I felt the veil surrounding the city disappear, as I breathed a sigh of relief and fell asleep.
  8. Chapter 109 – In the public eye. Etalos, Nomir and I had breakfast with Dad, and Kalron before going to the realm. I must say dad is becoming good with elvish ingredients himself. The food dad prepared is almost as good as an elf’s cooking. I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of how cool my father is, I mean he has basically taken everything thrown at us in stride. From me being gay to dating an old vampire, to the magic and not to mention me being a prince! I couldn’t wish for a better dad, thinking about how much I love him gets me all misty eyed. “Hey, Chris, what’s with that look?” Dad asked, slightly concerned as he noticed my emotional state. I smiled at dad, and just replied, “just thinking about how cool and amazing you are dad, I mean it, thanks for everything, and never forget, I love you.” “Aww… buddy, I love you too!” Dad replied as he gave me a very heartwarming smile from across the table. — The media interview was to be held in my study in the residential palace. For my first TV appearance, I wore pastel blue and white robes that clung to my skin, and had a gold and silver circlet on my head. “Are you ready, Chris?” Etalos asked. “If I say no, does that mean this is cancelled?” Nomir snorted at my reply, I gave him a playful glare but it seems even Nomir has warmed up enough with me to not back down, my bodyguard met my stare and said, “Oh come on Chris, one way or another you’ll have to do this. Better get this over with don’t you think?” I smirked at Nomir then replied, “you’re right.” “Remember the notes from Kalsina?” Etalos asked reminding me of the things I should expect from the interview. “Yeah, I’ve read it thrice geez.” I complained. “Attitude mister.” Etalos said as he patted both my shoulders, “The whole realm will be watching so you better behave.” He grinned. *groan* “I DO NOT HAVE AN ATTITUDE”, I glared at him. “Uh huh. We all know you’re nice and all but you do get a little bit testy sometimes.” Etalos smiled back at me. He then paused then continued, “but you’re the best boss ever, so since you are just that, the best boss ever, why don’t you make my job easier by doing this interview as planned?” “Fine… let’s just hope they have a good editing team.” I groused. — Walking into my study, I noticed the couches have already been rearranged for me and Nithor. Far from what I expected, there were just three other people in the room when we stepped in. Two men and one lady. All three seemed to be in a serious conversation, they didn’t even notice us walk in. Etalos cleared his throat to catch their attention. “Your highness!” They faltered in shock then bowed as they saw me. “Please, none of that. Chris would be fine.” I replied as I reached out to shake their hands. “Nithor at your service, your highness.” Said the handsome middle aged elf who first shook my hand. “Nice to finally meet you.” I replied. “This is my team, Seleya our camerawoman and Yanjir the production assistant,” he said, as he directed his hand towards the late twenties looking woman and younger looking man behind him. Looking around, I noticed the camera is more compact than expected and the lights for the interview were actually made of magic. It seems, light based spells were used to illuminate the room to match whatever lighting level the camera required. I approached the other two and shook their hands, “a pleasure to meet you as well.” I said to them. “So how do we go about this?” I asked Nithor. “Uhm, basically we’re pegging it as a get to know you type of interview. The realm wants to know the man behind the power and mystery.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about but I’ll do my best to answer your questions.” I warmly smiled at Nithor. “Oh please your highness, we all know of your strength.” I gave out a nervous chuckle, much to Etalos and Nomir’s amusement. “So, shall we begin?” Nithor asked. “Of course,” I replied as I allowed Nithor to sit on the couch to the left of the camera, I followed a second later sitting on the couch positioned diagonal to him. “Ready when you are,” I said. Nithor drew in a deep breath and gave a signal to Seleya to start the camera. “Dear elven brothers and sisters…” Nithor said looking straight at the camera, “It is my great honor to have with me, the newly ascended prince of the realm, his highness, Prince Christopher Rogers beyn Haldruin.” I smiled at the camera, looked at Nithor, then said, “The pleasure is mine, Nithor.” Nithor set his gaze on me, “First, I’d like to congratulate you on a truly magnificent ascension. I am sure my fellow citizens agree, it was unforgettable.” “Thank you.” I tersely replied with a subtle nod in my head. “Also, congratulations on your victory against the demon general. Based on what we have heard, it was you that delivered the final blow against the demon, Yonthar.” I tried to calm myself and collect my thoughts on the matter, “again, thank you Nithor. It was certainly a tough battle but with the aid of the brave soldiers from Akros and the Royal Guard, and our partners from the vampire and werewolf communities, we were able to emerge victorious.” “Speaking of vampires and werewolves, I hear you are ambassador of the realm to earth, am I correct?” “Yes, His Majesty King ZoHal has kindly entrusted me with the responsibility to manage our relations with those of Earth.” “Must be a tough job. So early into your life as a royal and already very deep in the thick of things,” Nithor remarked. “You’re right,” I gave out a nervous chuckle, “I would be lying if I told you it’s an easy job. But have you tried thinking of saying no to King ZoHal?” I joked. Nithor gave out an amused smile, “Of course not.” “So, how do you find life here in the realm. From what we know, you’re the first from our kind to grow up in earth in two centuries.” “It’s different, in a good way, of course, let’s be honest here, a few months ago I never knew of this world, but here I am, and here we are, every day is a process of learning and adjusting, but it’s a process that I wouldn’t exchange for anything in the world.” I looked beyond the camera and saw Etalos smiling at me and giving me a brief nod. “So your highness, please tell us more about yourself, who is this powerful prince that has taken the realm’s breath away?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but if you’re asking about who I really am, well I’m this boy who not long ago thought he only had his dad for a family, and here I am now, surrounded by a larger family, and more friends than one could imagine and if I may be so candid, I think I have also found the love of my life.” I wistfully sighed. “So the prince is not single?” “Oh no. Not at all. I am taken,” I gave a brief chuckle. “Am I correct to assume that it is this handsome vampire you’re dancing with?” Nithor asked as he pulled out a picture from the dance after my ascension. “You are correct, that’s Victor, and he means the world to me.” “I guess you just broke the hearts of millions of men and ladies across the realm,” Nithor kidded. “Well, I hope not,” I giggled a bit, “I mean it though, I may be romantically taken but believe me when I tell you, I aim to be every citizen’s friend and protector. Please, and I’m speaking directly to anyone that’s watching, if you see me, please feel free to approach me, I would be more than happy to talk and get to know you.” “There you heard it, right from the prince’s mouth, you can go talk to him!” “Yes, you’re right about that.” I retorted. “Your highness, with all this power and influence you’ve accumulated in such a short period of time, is there anything else a person of your caliber yearns for?” I took my time to answer that question, and with a slight misting in my eyes, I replied, “I just wish my mom was here. Nothing else would make me happier, than to see her be proud of me.” Nithor let the emotion of my reply sink in, and then he added, “Your mother was loved by the people, she is certainly missed by us, who have witnessed her love for her people.” “Yeah, she was a kind and generous lady. I could only hope to be as good of a servant of the realm as her.” “That is something that your people will certainly look forward to.” Then for the next fifteen minutes or so, Nithor and I talked back and forth about my life on earth, and my love life even. Little was mentioned of my elemental and magical abilities, much to my delight, I guess Kalsina told him to avoid that topic. — “That was certainly a great interview Chris, I’m sure people will love it.” Etalos said as the media team left my study. “Phew, I sure hope so.” “Don’t worry about it Chris, believe us, we’re citizens of the realm too remember? It was heartfelt and genuine.” Nomir said from behind Etalos. “This PR blitz is certainly an adventure.” I thought out loud. Etalos grinned at me, then said, “You still have the public appearance. Has the King given you the go signal to visit Katar?” “Oh fudge, yeah, I have to ask him that.” Etalos and I continued to discuss the interview as we made our way toward Patri’s office to report on how it went. — “I gather your interview went well.” Patri said as he hugged me. “I sure hope so. Etalos and Nomir seem to think it did.” “Well, I’m sure your chief of staff, wouldn’t allow it to have gone otherwise.” “Yeah, he’s very protective of me.” “As he should. I am glad you have surrounded yourself with loyal people. I can see it, they’re not just servants, they’re friends to you. Your uncles have said as much regarding how you interact with them.” “Yes, Patri, they’re really good friends of mine.” “As it should be. Now, I assume you are here for something else, aside from reporting on how your interview went?” Patri asked with a raised eyebrow. “Oh Patri, couldn’t I just visit my grandfather?” “Of course you can,” he smirked at me, “but I sense there is something else.” “Yeah, you are right,” I paused. I looked away, then peeked at Patri, the just above a whisper asked, “Katar?” “What of Katar?” Patri asked amused. “First public appearance, remember?” Patri gave out a light grunt, “I remember, and yes, I agree, Katar is acceptable. However, you have to be careful around Havar. I do not trust him.” “I do not trust him either, I will be careful Patri.” “Chris,” my grandfather said in almost a warning tone, “Katar, is Havar’s turf, stay vigilant. I’d rather you be overly cautious than otherwise.” “Yes Patri, I understand.” I was able to relax and visit with Patri after I go his answer about Katar. —- Thinking of my impending visit to Katar, I stared at Etalos, then asked, “So, when will this visit to Katar be?” “I have already reached out to Prince Havar’s office, and to say his team is ecstatic to have you is an understatement. Given how much he wants your attention and company, I believe they will do their best to make this happen as fast as possible.” “Don’t they need to make arrangements for the entire public event and stuff?” “Yes, but do not underestimate a desperate royal. I am sure it will be fairly soon and we have to prepare for it. Kalron and I will prepare notes for you regarding the city and its people. Talking points and stuff.” “Hmm… You and Kalron huh?” I shot my cute friend a teasing smile. Etalos immediately blushed, “Uh yes, why… anything wrong with that? It’s just work,” He stammered. “Oh nothing,” I winked at him. — Victor and Henry joined us at the house for dinner. “So, Konrad’s operation in Phoenix is tonight right?” I asked. “Yes, it should start in a few hours.” Victor replied. “The red pyramid huh?” Dad thought out loud. “Yes, quite a nasty group back in the 80’s,” Henry replied. “I helped with the planning, Chris, there’s nothing to worry about. They are as prepared as they can be,” Kalron said. “I wish I was there to help out.” “Oh Chris, if you were there then what would the rest of the team do? Watch you trample on the enemy?” Henry huffed and laughed, he was joined by everyone else at the table. Victor gripped my shoulder, smiled, then said, “let them do their jobs, trust them, this is Konrad we’re talking about. Head of Stratos remember?” — “Fine, but I wanna be the first one to know of their success, okay?” To my delight, Victor decided to sleep in my place. “So, how was your day?” Victor asked me as he spooned me from behind. “Hectic, but I’m fine.” “Uh huh..” Victor replied as he kissed the nape of my neck and breathed in my scent. Oh boy Victor was horny. I could sense it and so was I! I reached out for Victor’s hardon pressing against my butt, I reached it with pinpoint accuracy and slowly groped his 7 and a half inch cock. “That’s it.” Victor added is a husky voice. I pulled down my pajamas and pulled down Victor’s as well without looking at him. I spat on my hand and lubed his throbbing cock. As soon as it was slick, I spat some more and smeared it across my puckered hole and without much ceremony, I impaled myself on Victor’s cock in one swift action. Victor let out a moan as he bottomed out in me and I could only sigh in equal pleasure. “Fuck… baby” Victor whispered. I moved my hips as Victor gripped them, he took over and slowly built up a fast tempo as he fucked me. “Bite me.” I whispered, and being the obedient boyfriend that Victor is, he did. I moaned and moaned in ecstasy as Victor’s bite sent shivers and tingles throughout my body. The tingles didn’t stop as his cock massaged my prostate, I could only writhe in pure pleasure with Victor’s simultaneous bite and fucking. Victor slurped on my neck as he continued to pummel me from behind. “Harder…” I commanded. He obliged. Minutes later we came at almost the same time, relishing the amazing lovemaking that just happened. — It was barely sunrise when Victor and I went to my study to join Kalron and Etalos for a briefing on Konrad’s mission. “So how did it go?” I asked. “It was a success. Konrad’s team was able to get hold of the captured demons, and Red Pyramid’s operations in Phoenix has been extinguished.” Victor gave me a look, and said, “Told you Konrad could handle it.” I ignored Victor’s remark, then further asked, “So any injuries or losses on our side? Where are the demons now?” “Several were injured, no deaths, the demons are already being held in our joint facility in New York. Konrad confirmed that the demons are indeed in a weakened state. His team were also able to capture several vampires and even werewolves and humans from the syndicate. They are already gathering intel from them as we speak.” “That’s good.” I then shot Victor a smile, “I guess you’re right, I’m indeed a worrier.” “Yes, you are.” “So, what’s next?” I asked. “We deal with the other two syndicates, but I’m assuming Reza and Konrad will want to finish the intel gathering before moving on, I’m sure Konrad will report the events of the night to the VHC within the day.” “Well, that’s one less thing to worry about.” Etalos mused. “You’re right,” I retorted, then thought of something, “What do we do with the demons?” “Hmm, I’m guessing try to get as much information from them as possible. If our mind readers or your agents couldn’t handle them, I’m sure they’ll reach out for your help,” Victor replied. “It’s important we know what the syndicate has done to these demons. I’m not comfortable with the idea of demonic powers being used by more people around here,” I grumbled in frustration. “I’m still nervous about the other general though, I just hope not all the remaining eight are out there planning their next move against the world,” I added. “Yeah, the prospect of eight more demon generals is a concerning thought. Good thing it appears they’re not really into cooperating with one another,” Kalron mused. “You’re right about that. King Ethnar once told me, and I’ve read about it too, demon generals barely work together, they operate as separate armies, good thing they’re not centralized and all, coz the thought of them being more organized is something I wouldn’t want to think about,” I replied as I shuddered a little. “Any news on human disappearances?” Victor asked, “that’s how we noticed Yonthar was on the move right?” “The rate of missing persons is higher than average but not as high as it was during Yonthar’s time,” Kalron replied. “Any missing vampires?” I asked Victor. “There are always missing vampires but nothing suspicious as of now.” Victor replied. “However, if the other generals have become more cautious, they might be biding their time and actively avoiding any action that would direct attention towards them,” Etalos remarked. “In the end, we should bolster our forces. The stronger we are, the better we will be in dealing with them regardless of whether or not we find them first,” I said. “Yonthar was one of the stronger generals but he is not the strongest, and to date we only know three names, that’s what worries me.” “It seems like they’re really good at hiding their true identities,” Kalron pensively retorted. We ended the conversation after we resolved to be take more precautions. — After breakfast, I spent most part of the morning honing my earth magic skills. I read several earth magic scrolls and books, then asked Nomir to train with me. My gold level bodyguard was surprised that I asked him to spar with me, I guess he was nervous to fight with me, but after giving him a cute pout, he relented. “Chris, are you sure you just learned Earth Magic?” That was incredible, Nomir commented after our half hour long bout. “Yeah, but I had some help learning, so I should be thankful for that.” “But this level of progress is just amazing, you are certainly special.” “Oh please Nomir, stop it.” “I think you’re the one that should be teaching me stuff,” Nomir suggested. “Like what?” “I dunno, some spells that would be useful in battle. A spell or two that would help me protect you would be nice.” I took Nomir’s suggestion to heart and spent the better half of the hour teaching him how to craft and control earth golems. Though, I could grow my golems up to maybe 15 or 20 feet tall, Nomir’s 4 and 5 feet tall golems were a good start. He even learned to infuse them with some of his energy to make them stronger and enable them to cast low level attack and defensive spells of their own. — Etalos wore a serious expression as he walked into my study. “What is it Etalos? You look stressed.” “Well, you can say that again and I think you will be too the moment you hear what I’m about to tell you.” “What’s the matter? Is something wrong?” I asked, concerned about what news my assistant will fling upon me. “It’s about Katar.” Etalos tersely replied. “What about it? “Remember how I told you Prince Havar will most likely rush things the moment you show interest in a public appearance in his city?” “Yes.” “Well, I think we underestimated how invested he is with meeting you.” “What do you mean? Just say it Etalos…” “It’s tomorrow. You have to be in Katar tomorrow.” “What?! That soon?!” I gasped in surprise. “Yes.” “Is there any other way for us to delay this? I mean, it was my idea but this is too soon!” “The Prince has basically outmaneuvered us. He has already announced your visit. Changing the schedule will be a blow to your image.” “Fuuuck” I groaned as I slapped both my heads on my face, “damn it.” “We will make this work Chris. It might be sooner than expected but at least we can get this out of the way.” Etalos said, trying to soothe my exasperated demeanor. “Fine. You take care of the logistics.” “Of course, Chris. I will spend the rest of the day in the realm coordinating with Prince Havar’s team.” “Thanks Etalos.” — That night, I decided to rest and not visit the Tower. I needed to be in my A-game for my first public appearance after all. It’s also good that I didn’t wake up feeling that I’ve forgotten a very important dream. “Ready for your big day?” Etalos asked over breakfast. He looked tired but still cute. “Yeah, but you look like you could use some sleep.” I said. “I can sleep on the train on the way to Katar,” Etalos yawned. “It’s 400 kilometers from the capital, right?” “Yeah, should take us less than two hours to get there from the capital via the high speed train.” “What time are we leaving for the realm?” Just before sunset, by then it would be early morning there and we would be in Katar just before noon. “Okay sure.” I spent most of the morning reading about the City and its people. I already knew that Katar is an autonomous city, and is the second most populous city in the realm after the capital. Apparently, it is the center of commerce and trade in the Northwestern reaches of the realm. With the city being Prince Havar’s stronghold, a majority of its people are of Elurdeyan descent, however due to it bordering the Western Province, a quarter of its people are from the Hegodeya Tribe. Yal and my uncles visited for lunch, they just wanted to wish me well in my first public appearance. “Just be your usual charming self,” Uncle Selvenus said to me. “Yeah, and don’t let Havar get all the attention, Uncle Rehanmir added. “We already know that you’re a good person, it’s about time the people see you as the kind person that you are,” Yal said. “Thanks, I’m really nervous about this though.” “Nothing wrong with being nervous Chris, just don’t let it control you,” Uncle Rehanmir replied as he reached out for both my hands and gave them a reassuring grip. “Thanks guys for coming over,” I smiled back at them. “Of course, we’re always here to support you,” Yal smiled at me as he pulled me in for a hug. — Etalos, Nomir, and I along with the carriage attendant and 4 other royal guards were the only ones present in the first carriage. I calmed myself down with some tea as I looked at the wide expanse of the flat lands of the Western Province. The vegetation seemed sparser, and the climate appeared to be drier, however what I saw was of equal beauty to the scenes I’ve witnessed in the Northern Province. Grass and trees had earthier colors, yellow, brown, light green, and gray. Etalos slept for most of the trip, while Nomir did his best to make friends with the guards Patri sent to join us. The train whizzed through the landscape and I couldn’t take my eyes away from the beautiful scenery in front of me. Looking into the distance, I saw something that’s almost too majestic to believe. My jaws dropped and I was speechless. When the brief said, ‘Walls of Wood’ I did not expect the city to be surrounded by a two hundred foot wall of trees! I mean I read that part but I honestly thought it was a figure of speech! As the train drew closer to the walls, my eyes could make out the details of the gargantuan wall. What appeared from afar as a solid block of wood for a wall is actually made out of thousands if not tens of thousands of large trees, branches, wrapped and woven with each other in such an intricate manner that the its texture appeared to be that of one perfectly woven basket. The wall stood tall, and the canopy of the trees don’t even begin maybe until above 150 feet. If the wall of trees was breathtaking, the canopy was even more so, rainbow colored leaves decorated the wall, as if a kaleidoscope of colors burst on top of it. A rainbow foliage served as the crown of the alluring Walls of Katar. The train continued to approach the wall, and I can see that there is a hole in the middle of the wall to make way for the train and expressway viaduct into the city. Etalos groaned behind me as he started to wake up. “Etalos, this is amazing! Pictures don’t do it justice.” I rasped. Etalos looked out the window, he was as speechless as I was a few seconds ago, “wow” he muttered, the moment he recovered, “I’ve only seen it on tv, it’s way better in real life, wow, just wow.” A sudden darkness engulfed the carriage for a brief moment as we entered the tunnel as light returned the view opened into a birds-eye view of the city. The city is lush and filled with vegetation. Most buildings and houses, not more than two stories tall. Structures mainly built out of yellow or brown stone, with facades decorated by colorful vines or moss. “This is so different from the capital.” I remarked. “Yeah, so different from any other city in the realm,” Etalos retorted. It ended too soon for my liking, and before I knew it, the train came into a stop in the large wooden train station of Katar. Its architecture gothic yet everything was made out of wood. On the platform, what awaited us was a throng of civil guards in brown and gray uniforms. They were all lined to trace my path out of the carriage, and at the end of the line was an old man in red and gold robe, Prince Havar. Even with the distance, I can see the shit eating grin he had. Two of the Royal guards exited first, followed by Nomir, then me, Etalos followed suit, then the remaining two guards. Horns and string instruments were played as we made our way towards the awaiting Prince. It did not take long for me to fall into the embrace of my Patri’s cousin, “I am so glad, you are here young one.” He whispered to me, “come come, your people await.” He smiled as we exited the platform area. The moment the doors of the train station were opened onto the streets of Katar, what welcomed me was the thunderous roar of thousands, no, tens of thousands of people. All waving gold and black flags, that apparently have become my symbol in the realm. I smiled and waved and the cheers went on and on as Prince Havar and I made our way to the car waiting for us. “Phew” I sighed as I sat in the car, still waiving at the energetic people that have gathered to welcome me. “Amazing, isn’t it.” Prince Havar noted as he sat beside me. “Yeah, wow. Can’t believe they gathered just for me.” “Hmm, as they should. You are the most powerful elf in more than a millennia, you deserve all of this Prince Christopher.” Prince Havar said as he lightly squeezed my left shoulder, he paused, then continued, “more will come for your public address later.” As the car made its way through the crowd filled streets of Katar, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed, the spectacle of it all reminded me of my Ascension. It did not take long for us to reach the Palace of Katar, it had an expansive courtyard, and garden, and its structure was akin to a cake, circular and layered. Its façade was of smooth gray stone, with the occasional pop of color from the carefully curated moss and vines that wrapped around it. “I see, you’re really into nature,” I grinned at Prince Havar. “As all elves should be,” he tersely replied. Lunch was spent with Prince Havar’s family, Princess Yasa, his wife, and Prince Dozko, his son. I have met them before at the banquet after my ascension, it’s nice to be re-acquainted with them. Princess Yasa was cheerful while Prince Dozko more reserved. After lunch, Prince Havar and I went to his study for a quick chat. “I really am glad you decided to have your first appearance in Katar,” he beamed at me, his eyes twinkled with pride. “Well, your team did reach out to my office, and I thought why not,” I replied. “You don’t know how much this means to my people, your people, the Katari will never forget this gesture from the Platinum Prince.” Prince Havar took a moment to smile, then carried on, “Though I assume there is more to this?” “What do you mean?” “The Platinum Prince does not merely grant you audience,” he teased. “I don’t think our previous meetings were any more difficult to arrange,” I retorted. Prince Havar let out a small chuckle, “Of course, you have been most accommodating, but I feel there is more to this. A question that I may answer perhaps?” He asked as he raised an eyebrow. How the hell does this guy know things, can he read minds? I don’t think so, I’m very well shielded. “Don’t worry, I don’t read minds,” he smirked at my surprised expression, “I however, read situations, and body language, and you my boy are itching to ask a question.” “The Tower…” “Ah… The Tower, So I assume you have been informed of our shared experience with it?” “Yes…” “What do you want to know?” “Did you discover the Astra Spell there?” “Yes, what of it? Have you finally decided to use it as intended?” “No!” I quickly replied in surprise, “Sorry, but no, I can’t do that.” He smirked at me, “Only time will tell, but what I can say to you is, we are running out of precious time, the earth is dying. It won’t be long before those filthy humans destroy it beyond recognition, if not them then the demons will.” “Not if I stop them.” “The demons, I’m sure you can, you have the strength to do it, hell, you are more powerful than Ethnar. But 7 billion humans? How will you convince them to change their ways?” He cocked his head at that remark, “The Astra Spell is the most humane way to end it all.” “I can never…” “Maybe you’ll see how I see things the moment things worsen on Earth.” “I can’t believe the Tower would hold knowledge to such a powerful and destructive spell.” “Oh child, you have already bore witness to the miracles of the Tower more times than any other elf out there, you have been blessed, and I assure you, there is more to learn and discover in the Tower. Tens of thousands of books and scrolls for our race to use. Think of the possibilities! And think about it, only elves have been granted audience to it, we are the chosen race! The chosen people! We are the stewards of the world we left behind, it is such a shame that we as guardians have relinquished that mantle to those humans,” Prince Havar said, with so much vitriol in his voice. “Let’s not talk about this any further, please. I hate talking about earth and humans in such a way.” “As you wish.” For the next 15 minutes or so, Prince Havar and I discussed the city and its machinations. He was the proud leader of a prosperous city of a million. “As you can see, this city, is a testament to what we can achieve, none of that human-like pretense in most other cities in the realm,” Prince Havar replied after I commented on the beauty and sheer grandeur of Katar. “I have heard other cities across the realm have incorporated magic in their architecture as well, I have heard Bishgor, the capital of the Eastern Province is almost like a city carved into the mountains.” “Ahh, Bishgor, what a sight that city is, beautiful in its own right, but let me assure you young prince, this city, is the pinnacle and crowning jewel of what our people can build and live in.” I let that thread of our conversation end, and shifted it to something else. “You are thinking of something,” Prince Havar said as he noticed my introspective demeanor. “Yes, it’s the Tower again.” “Ahh, any lingering questions you have not asked from earlier?” he grinned at me. “I suppose.” “What do you have in mind? I would not be able to help if you keep it all in.” “During the time you visited the tower, were there any scripts or books that you couldn’t read?” The older prince gave me a knowing smile, “Of course, the Tower chooses what to let you know. I spent maybe 5 or 6 hours there and goodness, I have lost count of the books and scrolls that stood empty in front of me. It is what it is young prince, though I assume you are learning more and more every time you visit it?” “Yes, every time I actually do, and it just keeps going on and on, however, there’s this book, a book that has been with me for days now, it refuses to reveal itself.” “Ahh, such things must not bother you, I am sure you will understand when the time comes.” Prince Havar took his moment to sigh, smile at me, he reached out to my left hand and gave it a squeeze, “Has the Tower ever failed you?” “No” I meekly replied. “It is never wrong, time is all you have in this world young prince, sooner or later, what you seek, you shall find, if not, I am sure it will come to you. That has always been the way of the Tower and always will be.” “Can you tell me more about the flow? From what I know there is very little we know about it.” “Ahh.. the flow” Prince Havar’s eyes lit up at the mention of those words, “Where do I even begin?” “What do you mean?” “To put it simply, it is everything, it is life, death, creation, and destruction.” “But I thought that it is magic, energy, life, and death,” I interjected, remembering King Ethnar’s explanation of it. “Depends on who you ask,” Prince Havar smirked at me, “The truth of its nature, eludes us, all we have are hints and pieces of it, you my child, are our best chance to uncover the true nature of the flow. If you’d let me be so bold as to say, you are the closest anyone has been to what we have always sought.” ‘Damn. What a burden to put on the shoulders of a teenager huh.’ I thought to myself. “That can’t be,” I protested, “What of the previous Kings and Queens! Surely the flow has made itself known to them as well!” “Some might have been touched by it, but never as close as to your affinity with it,” Prince Havar said with finality in his tone. — Midafternoon, Prince Havar and I made our way to the central plaza of the city. It’s a large square approximately the size of four football fields, and tens of thousands of people gathered to see us. Prince Havar’s family joined us in the elevated platform as well. “Dear Citizens of Katar, I share with you the excitement and joy of hosting the realm’s newly ascended prince. It is my pleasure to introduce, his highness, Prince Christopher Haldruin,” Prince Havar roared as the people screamed cheers and well wishes. I waved towards the crowd, and couldn’t help but be overwhelmed, gosh, the sights, smells, and sounds of the crowd served as a sensory overload, I did my best to get a hold of myself. As the cheers died down, I cleared my throat for my speech. “My fellow citizens of the realm, I am humbled by your warm welcome. It is truly a pleasure to share this moment with you. I honestly believe I do not deserve your praise, but I promise, that I will do my very best to earn all the love and support you have shown me this day,” I paused to the loud cheer of the crowd. “This may be my first visit to the wonderful city of Katar, but it surely won’t be the last,” another thunderous cheer. “To the people of Katar, and to every citizen of the realm, I tell you this, we are all stronger together, the things that bind us, are stronger than the things that separate us. We as a people have entered a new era, we have started to open ourselves back to Earth, and I as ambassador to our true homeland, will do my very best to foster a great relationship with its people,” another thunderous applause. “In this new era, begins a new chapter for all of us as a people, and new challenges as well, I know you’ve all heard of the demon threat across the veil,” the crowd booed against the demons and I couldn’t help but chuckle, “but I assure you, the crown, is working very hard and doing its very best to protect this beloved realm of ours.” “With the strength bestowed upon us by the powers above, we will prevail!” I said, as I raised my right fist into the air. “Let me be clear, the threat is real, and strong, that I will not deny, and with this in mind, I implore for your unwavering support for the crown and our troops, we have already lost some of our very best in the first encounter with the demon scourge, let us not let allow their sacrifices be for naught, this realm needs you, not just your cheers, or applause, but your belief and trust, belief that we will overcome this, and trust that we will be more united, after our eventual triumph.” “Light shall overcome darkness, and if you will allow me, let me light the path through these trying times.” And with that I ended my speech. The crowd cheered and cheered, as I waved my hands, I decided to give them a treat. Something for them to hold onto. I pulled from my pool of energy and allowed some of it to seep to the surface. The crowd went silent as they felt the buzz of energy come off me. The air vibrated and hummed as waves upon waves of warm energy filled the entire city center. Without warning, I let my eyes shine bright gold, I tingled as streaks of gold and silver decorated my skin. The crowd stood in awe at my power demonstration. I did not let it end there, I shot a long serpentine fire dragon into the air, and made it dance, seconds later, I added a water dragon. Fuck, I think I just overdid it, the people are in a daze now. Whoopsie. Okay, fuck, distract them, uhm, I then shouted, “Hold onto the light even in the darkest moments,” and with that I let the dragons crash into each other, forming a large cloud of mist above the crowd. I shot multiple light spells into it, and a kaleidoscope of colors bursts into the air. The crowd cheered. After spending several minutes with eager reporters and fans, my contingent and I made our way back to the capital. — “Amazing as always grandson,” I hear Patri’s voice from my phone while we were on our way back to the capital. “I hope I didn’t overdo it,” I nervously chuckled. “No, not at all, just what your people need,” “I’m glad you approve Patri.” “Now your people know who you are, and this is just the beginning.” “I know Patri, I know.” “I hope Havar did not give you a hard time,” Patri laughed. “He did try, but I think I handled it well.” “Glad to hear that. Now get back here, we want to hear all about it!” “I’ll be there in an hour Patri.” — It was already mid-morning the following day when we returned to Greensburg, as I spent several hours having dinner with Patri, Matra, and my uncles. “Hey there champ. How was your big event yesterday?” Dad asked as he joined me in the living room. “Was good, I guess.” “Oh, why that look, tell me more.” For the next hour or so, I narrated to dad the events of the previous day. I described to him the beauty of Katar and some of what I’ve learned from Prince Havar. I told him of my speech and even recounted the events after the public rally, where I was inundated by reporters from all over the realm. I was in the middle of discussing a funny interaction with a reporter, when I suddenly felt ill. “Chris, are you okay?” Dad asked, the concern showing on his face. I couldn’t even reply, I felt a stabbing pain on my chest and my head felt like it was about to burst. I couldn’t describe what was happening to me. Dad called for Etalos and the rest to help me but the pain continued, the worried voices from friends faded into the background. Then I realized what it was, I was being consumed by wave upon wave of anguish, pain, resentment, and misery. It was as if the souls of thousands of people were calling out to me, seeking for release, seeking for liberation from their torment. My tattoos tingled and shined brilliantly for a moment as I gradually recovered. “What the hell was that?” I thought out loud as I relaxed into the warm embrace of my father. Still reeling from the reverberation of my earlier episode, I barely had any appetite during lunch. “Chris, please eat,” dad encouraged me from across the table. “I don’t feel like eating,” I replied in a sulky mood. “Please try.” After lunch, Kalron whisked me, Etalos, and Nomir into my study, alarm and fear showing all over him. “What’s the matter Kalron? Did you find something out, does this have anything to do with what happened to me earlier?” “I’m not sure Chris, but this is not good.” “What?” “Our scanners, well they found something. It appears like there is this distortion in the magical field.” “What do you mean?” Nomir curiously asked. “Look at this,” Kalron said as he pulled out his tablet and showed a map of the United States, “See this, this is how the magical fields are usually like, see mostly green and blue?” “Yes,” we replied, understanding what Kalron has pointed out. “Then look at this, our scan from half an hour ago showed this,” Kalron replied as he flipped across the screen and showed a still mostly green and blue map but a small red dot has appeared in the western edges of Arkansas. “Where is that? And what the hell does this mean?” I asked. “The scan results are still preliminary but it seems the distortion field is demon in nature,” Kalron grimly replied. He took a deep breath then continued, “Satellite images show nothing out of the ordinary, but look at this.” Kalron said. “What are we looking at?” Etalos asked for Nomir and myself. “It’s one of the cctv cameras my team was able to hack in the area. This is one of the closest cameras available near the city. We tried hacking into the surveillance systems of the city and even commercial and private cameras but none were working.” The camera was directed towards the street, and we saw cars whiz by, however at the far right edge of the screen, we see cars disappearing in plain sight. “What the hell!” Nomir gasped. “It appears this camera sits at the border of the distortion, whatever goes in is consumed by it. We got this feed from a roadside grocery store,” Kalron replied. “But it still looks so normal, the buildings on the other side are still there, even the trash bin, and benches, if it weren’t for the passing car, you wouldn’t realize that something was lying beyond,” Nomir remarked. “There’s more,” Kalron continued as he showed us more of the video stream and for the next 5 minutes we watched in horror and fascination as more than a dozen cars disappear into something. It was as if there was this curtain of illusion, hiding whatever was behind it. “Kalron, alert the VHC and WCC,” I commanded. I was almost panting in worry and confusion at that point. “We already have, and they are already coordinating with their agents in the area.” “Chris, did you notice?” Etalos asked. “What?” “Cars were disappearing into that thing but none came out, even people disappeared into it but nothing, no one got out,” Etalos further explained, his face mirroring whatever grim and anxious expression I had at that moment. “Fuck, what now?” I thought out loud as I swept my hair with both my hands in exasperation, “We have to do something about this.”
  9. Chapter 108 – The Young Politician 2 Etalos and Kalron were already in the kitchen when I walked in to grab some breakfast. They were laughing and didn’t notice me walk in. Looking at them, I remembered Victor telling me Kalron was into Etalos. Seeing them share this moment made me realize, they actually look good together, they’d make such a lovely couple! I cleared my throat, then said, “good morning.” Kalron and Etalos looked at me, my assistance looked away for a second and seemed to be blushing. “Good morning,” Kalron replied, smiling at me. “Good morning,” Etalos followed suit. “So, what’s for breakfast?” I asked. “We have some toasts, eggs, and sausages,” Etalos replied. Kalron then chimed in, “we were about to start making some Athan sandwiches too. It won’t take that long.” “Athan sandwiches?” I asked. “Sweet and savory sandwich from the realm,” Kalron replied. “Ohh… I see, fine, I’ll wait.” While Etalos and Kalron started making the sandwiches, I grabbed some orange juice for myself then asked, “So what do I have on my schedule today?” “Well, I’ve prepared some notes about the investors that you’re meeting, with Minister Neyana,” Etalos replied. I furrowed my forehead, then realized what Etalos was talking about. “Oh, the investors that want to expand into Earth right?” “Yes,” Etalos nodded. “You said to not set your schedule with them on the weekend, so, I moved them to tonight. I hope that’s okay with you.” “Sure, I don’t see a problem with that. Uhm, can you tell the Minister to arrive maybe 30-45 minutes earlier than the investors? I’d like to talk to her, before meeting the rest.” “Of course, that won’t be a problem.” After breakfast, I spent an hour reading through the files prepared by Etalos. It seems that I am meeting with very wealthy elves. The people I’m meeting are the heads of several large corporations in the realm. All have investments and operations that span various industries, from the realm’s signature gem and jewelry design, to transport, energy, and the media. How on earth can Patri possibly think that I am prepared to deal with these types of people. “You look like, you’re in deep thought,” my father said, as he walked in on me reading. “You can say that again,” I replied in a huff. “What’s the matter?” “Well, I have this major meeting with several wealthy elves tonight, and I don’t know why Patri would trust me with such a thing!” “I see where you’re coming from,” dad replied, with a comforting tone. He then smiled at me and said, “It seems that you’re underestimating yourself again.” “What do you mean?” “Chris, you’re the realm’s third in line to the throne. You can’t expect, not to have a larger role in its affairs.” “But dad, I’m too young for this!” Dad laughed at me, then his face turned serious, “if you’re old enough to date a 260 year old vampire, then I guess you’re old enough for anything.” He grinned as he finished his sentence. Well, my dad did have a point at that. I thought of arguing that I’m old enough for sex but not for politics but I’m not sure that line of thought would fly. “You’re not going to be alone in this meeting, right?” “Yeah, I will be joined by the Finance Minister.” “So, what are you so worried about?” “Well, maybe I’m overreacting a bit.” I sighed as I shrugged my shoulders. “Yes, you are.” Victor and Henry joined us for lunch. I invited them to come eat at the house before our meeting with August, Luigi, Reza, and Konrad. “I can really get used to elvish food.” Henry noted as he munched on Etalos’ cooking. “You can say that again,” dad laughed in amusement. Etalos, Nomir, and Kalron haven’t been in Greensburg long, but it already seems they’ve been a part of this household for the longest time. Now, I can’t even imagine the kitchen not smelling of elvish spices and food. “Chris, tomorrow, you’ll be having another meeting with your PR team again.” Etalos said. “Again?” “Yes. With that stunt you pulled at the café, they’ve decided to move the timeline forward.” “Café? What café?” Victor curiously asked. “Well, Victor, your boyfriend here decided to visit a café in the realm, wearing his royal robe without his detractor ring,” Etalos said in an amused tone. “He what?” Victor nearly choked on his drink. “Relax Victor, it was nothing,” I replied. “Say that to the pictures and videos of you spreading like wildfire in the realm. Here look at this,” Etalos said, as he handed his phone to Victor. “Holy shit! This picture has been shared more than 20 million times!” “What?! Let me look at that!” I said, grabbing Etalos’ phone from Victor. Looking at the screen, I see a picture of myself carrying Nalron. I clicked on the comments section and the people were raving about various stuff, but the key themes were how handsome and sexy I was, and how nice and approachable I seemed to be. “If you like, there’s more where that came from,” Etalos chimed in amused with my shocked expression. “No thanks,” I tersely replied as I handed back his phone. I was lost in disbelief with the amount of attention a single picture of me has received. Victor noticed my discomfort and trying to soothe my concerns, he said, “Chris, don’t think too much about it. If I remember correctly, you yourself have a crush on Prince Harry, so just think of yourself as, I dunno, the elvish version of Harry? Though you’re blonde, and way hotter!” he laughed. It was not lost on me that everyone else joined in Victor’s laugh, even dad! I am so going to get them for sniggering at me like this. We were in my study for the conference call with the representatives of VHC and WCC. The main reason for this meeting, is to discuss the VHC’s plan to take on the vampire syndicates. On screen were Reza, Konrad, August, and Luigi. “Good afternoon,” Reza said as the meeting began. “It’s good to see everyone.” Luigi tersely replied. “I hear that we’re to discuss vampire syndicates?” August asked. “Yes, we are,” Konrad said. “So, what’s this all about?” Luigi asked. “I think it’s best if we let Kalron explain the situation,” Reza replied. It was obvious in August and Luigi’s expressions that they were confused why an elf was going to explain matters regarding vampire syndicates, both kept silent nonetheless. Then for the next 15 minutes, Kalron explained how our agents tracked the operations and demon abduction of the three concerned syndicates. “Goodness, so we have to deal with them as well?” August sighed after Kalron’s explanation of the situation. “Actually, err...” Konrad started then paused, then continued, “We were thinking to take the lead in responding to this matter, since it’s mainly a vampire issue, but since demon’s are involved, we wanted to know what you thought of it.” “If you’re asking for our help, then of course we’re ready to help.” Luigi confidently replied. He then took a few seconds to himself, then spoke further, “We don’t mind having the vampires taking the lead on this one, the alliance between our races was designed for this, we don’t mind assisting you in whatever capacity.” Reza and Konrad exchanged guilty looks, as they thought back to how I told them the werewolves shouldn’t be excluded from this matter. “I agree with Luigi. So, what’s the plan?” August said. “Well, we were thinking of taking the syndicates one at a time. Based on the information we have, it appears that they’re not coordinating with each other. Something that works in our favor,” Konrad replied. “We have located their bases of operation, the Red Pyramid is hiding the demons in a warehouse, on the outskirts of Phoenix. The Orion Group is operating out of Fort Worth, while the Alcatraz Syndicate is storing their demons in Tallahassee. Given how things are, we are inclined to deal with the Red Pyramid first since they are the weakest of the three,” Reza added. “Hmm, that seems rational,” Luigi noted. “That matter with Citadel Corp makes things a bit more complicated when it comes to dealing with Orion Group later on,” August said. “You’re right, we’re not exactly sure to what extent they are supporting each other,” Victor noted. “What’s the latest development?” August asked. “There haven’t been any indications that the syndicates are aware that we are monitoring them. They also appear to be taking their time, no large movements have been observed from their end,” Kalron replied. “Most likely they don’t know what to do with the demons they’ve captured,” I thought out loud. “Have the humans taken notice?” Luigi inquired. “FRUSI is still rebuilding, they haven’t noticed a thing. It should take weeks if not months for them to recover from the attacks of Yonthar’s troops,” Kalron replied. “I see, then we should organize a mission as soon as possible,” Luigi said. After almost an hour of discussion, it was decided that Konrad will lead the mission against Red Pyramid on Wednesday evening. He will be joined by 14 vampires, 4 elves, and 4 werewolves. An emergency response team of 5 vampires, 2 elves, and 2 were werewolves will be on standby as well. After which, we will reconvene to discuss which syndicate to attack next. “That went better than expected,” Victor mused as we cuddled in my bed. “Let’s just hope that all will be well. I can’t help but be nervous.” “Chris, we’re talking about Konrad, he is the head of Stratos for a reason.” “Well, can’t help it that I’m a worrier.” “They did just fine in the previous operation, his team wiped out Yonthar’s group in Indianapolis if you recall.” “Chris, Konrad is very strong, and smart, he has been doing this for a long time so just trust him on this. You may be several times stronger than him but if we take you out of the picture, Konrad is one of the strongest out there.” “Fine,” I sighed. After dinner, Etalos and I went to the realm for my meeting with the elvish investors. “So where are we headed?” I asked Etalos, as we walked the corridors of the administrative section of the palace. “I set the meeting in one of the better conference rooms.” “Why couldn’t we do it in my office?” “Just thought we could intimidate them more if we used the fancier offices here.” “What’s wrong with my office?” I asked. Etalos paused, then smirked at me, looked at me from head to toe then said, “Your tastes are a little bit too down to earth, especially for an elf, let alone a royal. What better way to show them that you’re in control, than showing them that you are way wealthier than they are.” “I am not.” “Chris, you’re a Haldruin remember?” “Yeah…” I replied softly. “Who do you think is the richest family in the realm?” I stopped walking then paused to take a good look at Etalos. My cute assistant giggled, then said, “You don’t even know do you?” “What?” “The royal family is the wealthiest here.” “Huh?” “Chris, did you read that memo I sent you on your family’s business holdings?” “Yeah I did…” I muttered. “Then that’s your answer. Anyway, let’s go, let’s not make the minister wait for us.” Opening the large double doors of the conference room, we were greeted by an exquisitely decorated interior. High ceilings, large windows that provided a view of the palace’s garden, furnished with the best wood furniture. “Your highness,” Minister Neyana greeted me. She was wearing a blue and white robe which stood in contrast to my red and gold. “Minister, a pleasure to see you again,” I smiled at her as I shook her hand. “The pleasure is mine. I am happy that you were able to accommodate this request in your busy schedule,” she smiled at me. I tried my best not to laugh, what busy schedule is she talking about? “Please have a seat,” I said. The three of us were seated at a large rectangular table in the middle of the room. We occupied the same side, we left the other for the investors. “So, any ideas what these investors want?” I asked Neyana. “Most likely they want to expand their businesses into earth. I have talked to some of them, and they are eager to invest outside the realm.” “Why though? Isn’t the realm enough?” “It is more than enough,” she chuckled. “However, with you being appointed as ambassador to earth, the king has implied that the earth is open for business.” I stifled an internal groan at that, gosh, what has Patri gotten me into? “Are you sure I am the right person to talk to about this?” I warily asked. “Yes, I have brought the matter up with his majesty and he said to talk to you. That’s why I reached out to your chief of staff.” “I guess, we should hear them out. I expect you to help me navigate the discussions, I am unfamiliar with matters like this, and I know you are more familiar with the people we are meeting.” “It would be my pleasure to serve.” The investors arrive several minutes later. They all walked in at the same time, 2 men and 2 women, all appeared to be in their late thirties to mid-forties. All dressed in expensive looking tight robes of various pastel hues. Thanks to the briefing notes prepared by Etalos, looking at their faces I immediately knew which one was whom. “Your highness,” they lightly bowed at the sight of me. The three of us stood to greet them. I gave them my best smile and said, “Welcome, please have a seat.” The two male elves sat on the left side in front of me, the women took the right. They sat in the following order, Holrad, Sefard, Lishara, and Tesana. The four of them are the most well-known corporate figures in the realm. “Thank you, your highness for meeting with us,” Lishara said. “To what do I owe this pleasure?” I asked with a smile. “I gather the minister has informed you of our intention?” Holrad asked. “Yes, she has, but I am not sure what the specifics are.” “We want to venture into earth. The four of us have decided to form an investment consortium, specifically for the purpose of investing on earth.” Sefard said as he looked straight into my eyes. For a moment I was captivated by how ruggedly handsome the Italian looking hunk was in front of me. Etalos discreetly nudged me under the table when he noticed how distracted I was. “A consortium huh?” I mused. “Please tell us more about this,” Neyana asked “We plan to invest 200 billion crowns. That’s 50 for each of us.” Lishara replied. “We intend to acquire and invest in startup companies and existing businesses in various sectors, though I am mainly keen in renewable and sustainable technologies.” Tesana added, she smiled at me then continued, “My company is in a good position to compete in such a landscape, with the information we have on earth, there is definitely a dearth in investments in the renewable sector, and the technology we have here is at least a decade more advanced than the human’s.” “Same goes for me and my company when it comes to the transportation industry, we make the best cars, trucks, and trains.” Sefard offered. Lishara then added, “My company on the other hand is well positioned to compete in the healthcare industry.” “My company is several years ahead in AI and robotics,” Holrad contributed. “I know the background of your companies, and I am very much impressed with what you have to offer, but I can’t help but ask, why earth?” I asked. Holrad grinned at me, “Why not? It’s a market of 7 billion people.” “So, 200 billion crowns huh?” mused. “Yes,” Lishara nodded. “And you four have thought this through?” I asked. “Yes. Actually, our companies started talking about this consortium as soon as the announcement of your ambassadorship was made.” Tesana replied, “We already have several business plans on hand, and a list of the companies we want to acquire as well.” “Do you have the list of these companies now?” Etalos asked. “Of course, yes,” Sefard eagerly replied. “Here,” he said as he handed the three of us a copy of the list. I read their list and they had at least two dozen companies across the world that they had their eyes on. “This is quite the list,” I remarked as I glanced at several familiar names. “Yes, it is. Rest assured, we have conducted the studies to show how profitable those companies can be under our watch.” Lishara added. “I don’t doubt your business acumen. However…” my voice trailed off. “However, what your highness?” Lishara asked with a slight hint of concern in her voice. “With this list covering companies across several industries and spanning multiple countries, I believe this will put the secrecy of the realm at risk. You can’t possibly expect the government to assume the cost and responsibility of hiding your tracks.” I noted. “Of course not, we are prepared to pay taxes.” Sefard replied. “As does every other business in the realm. That’s not enough,” I seriously replied. I took a deep breath, then continued, “I assume that you are also aware of the situation back on earth? It’s not exactly the safest place to be for an elf.” “Yes, we are aware of the demon threat.” Holrad replied. “And despite that, you want to venture there?” “We are prepared to take on the risk.” Holrad replied. I chuckled a bit, “I believe what you mean is that you are willing to risk the lives of the employees you’ll be sending there. I will not allow this if they are not given the sufficient level of protection, and I am sure you are aware, there is a shortage of protective pendants as of now.” The four of them paused, obviously taken aback with how forceful my response has been. It is clear they assumed, I would give them a free pass on this one. “What do you have in mind sir?” Tesana asked. “I will allow this with several conditions in mind.” “And what conditions will those be?” Tesana asked. “First, this consortium will not invest 200 billion crowns, this consortium will invest 400 billion crowns.” They gasped and sat in awe at that remark, “I am not yet done, your four companies will remain to provide 50 billion each, but the realm will match your investments, the realm will take a 50% stake in this venture, the government will invest another 200 billion into this.” Nelyana looked at me, equally surprised with my actions. “Does the realm have the funds for this?” I asked. Though weird of me to ask after the fact, but with the notes Etalos gave me and previous meetings I have had, I am already aware that the realm is in a good financial position. “Yes, your highness, we can tap the realm’s cash reserves for this.” “Okay, second, you may proceed with your studies but, and this is a big but, we will not move forward with the venture until the situation with the demons has been resolved. I will not stand having our people put at such a large amount of risk.” “But that could take months, years even…” Tesana complained. “Take it or leave it.” I warned. The four of them exchanged glances and then nodded in agreement. “Third, with the realm taking a major role in this venture, we want a veto power in whatever venture this consortium is going into. I mean, especially with us footing 50% of the bill, I guess that’s only fair. Also, I expect to have a copy of all the studies and proposals you have on hand. We have to thoroughly vet your ideas. As it stands, I am only giving this a provisional approval.” “Uhm, uhm, of course, your highness.” Holrad stammered. “Good,” I smiled at the four elves in front of me, “Please, coordinate this with the minister and my chief of staff.” “Yes,” Tesana replied for the four of them. After discussing the details for another 15 minutes, the four elf tycoons left the conference room slightly confused, yet happy that at least I didn’t say no to them. “Phew” I said, as I rubbed my head taking my seat again after the four elves left. “Your highness, that was superb. Not only will the realm take in taxes from their profits but investing 200 billion crowns on our own will provide a boon to the state coffers as well,” Nelyana remarked, amused and proud of how things turned out. I smiled at her, “Sorry if I put your ministry on the spot but I already knew we had the money for it anyway.” “No problem at all, actually this is good since the ministry has been looking for more areas to park the government’s spare cash. The realm has been running a budget surplus for more than half a century now.” “I know,” I grinned back at her. I paused then said, “One thing though, with now there being a 400 billion crown pot, that’s 40 billion dollars we need to source, and I can only assume that the realm’s source of dollars is our cash reserves.” “Yes, you are right. The realm holds 100 billion dollars in cash reserves from the trade surplus we’ve been running with the humans.” “I see. No matter the amount of crowns we want to invest, it is pointless if we don’t have the equivalent amount of human currency on hand. I hope I have not put our reserves at risk.” “40 billion dollars is indeed a significant chunk of our reserves but we don’t expect to run a trade deficit any time soon. We can also start trading with the werewolves and vampires as a possible source of additional hard currency,” Neyana replied. “You’re right. I am sure we can create demand for crowns in exchange for dollars once we open up our economy to outsiders.” “Another thing I wanted to talk to you about your highness,” Neyana said. “What is it?” “I know you are already fully aware of how we trade using shell companies back on earth right?” “Yes.” “Well, the ministry has been thinking of something to smoothen the process of how we transfer money across the globe.” “What is it?” “My team is proposing that we acquire small or mid-sized banks that we can use to transfer money across the world. Having our own banks, we can have an easier time wiring funds, but we would still need the shell companies we already have for other purposes.” “I assume your team already has a list of banks?” I shot her an amused and expectant smile. “Actually we do,” she smiled at me. “Give me the list and Etalos and I together with my own team will look into it,” I smiled at her. “Wow, Chris, that was masterful.” Etalos noted as we both plopped onto the couch in my room back in the residential palace. “You think so?” I asked. “I know so! If you saw the looks on their faces, I am sure they did not see that coming.” I giggled, “I can’t let them have all the fun, now can I?” Etalos smirked at me, then said, “speaking of fun, you’re meeting your PR team in two hours.” “What? I don’t want to!” I groaned. “You’re whining again. Rest or do whatever you want for the next two hours but don’t you dare be late,” Etalos smiled at me. Looking at my cute elf, I can’t help but be proud of how good of a friend and a chief of staff he has become. “What are you looking at?” “Nothing…” I snickered. “Oh, I know you’re thinking of something.” I thought of the perfect response to distract my cute friend, “So what’s this I hear about you and Kalron?” “What? What did you hear?” Etalos blushed and started to stammer. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Anyway, I need to go to your office, I have to deal with some stuff…” “Uh huh,” I raised an eyebrow at Etalos, clearly showing that I was not buying his excuse. Kalsina, Sendor, and Rovith had large smiles when they entered my office. “That was truly amazing your highness. You have certainly made our job easier,” Kalsina said to me. “What are you talking about?” I asked my PR Consultant. “The café, and the toddler! It couldn’t have been any better,” she retorted. “Honestly, it was unscripted,” I defended myself. “That’s what makes it even better,” Rovith chimed in. “So, what next?” I asked. “A TV interview,” Kalsina grinned. “A what?” “You know, sit down one on one interview, I am thinking something intimate and cozy, that would definitely make you seem approachable.” “I am approachable.” Sendor cackled while Rovith snickered. “Not yet, you are not yet approachable. At least that is how it is with the people,” Rovith clarified. “Fine… who do you have in mind? Retasa?” “Oh, God no, not Retasa, she’s too, uhm feisty for our liking,” Kalsina replied. “We were thinking, Nithor of Channel 8. He’s more, amiable and is very much a royalist,” Sendor added. “Nithor?” I asked. “An equally well respected journalist to that of Retasa but someone who is open to have the interview be navigated and framed to the best possible light in favor of you,” Kalsina proudly retorted. “Ah, I see.” “Don’t worry Chris, Nithor is very popular and has a huge following,” Etalos said. “If you say so, then okay,” I shrugged in resignation. “So, when is this interview?” “How about tomorrow?” Kalsina asked. “So soon?” I asked in surprise. “We have to milk the news cycle as much as we can and with the café incident, we can’t waste any time. Don’t worry about the scheduling. Nithor and his team will drop everything for an interview with the Platinum prince,” Kalsina said. “How about my schedule?” I incredulously asked. “I am your chief of staff remember? You are free tomorrow,” Etalos smiled at me. *groan* After a busy day in the realm, Etalos and I were able to return home at around 5am. Just enough time for a few hours of sleep. Good thing elves don’t need much sleep. “Tired?” Dad asked me as I walked into the living room just before noon. “Yeah, a bit.” “How were your meetings yesterday?” “Where do I even begin? Let’s just say things were rather eventful,” I sighed as I took a seat beside my father on the couch. “You’ll get the hang of it son, I know you will.” “I hope so dad.” Dad looked at me straight and seriously, “Chris, it was only a few months ago that you were just a homeschooled soccer playing teenager. Now you’re a prince and a very powerful one at that. Let’s not forget being in a relationship with a very influential vampire. I can only imagine what a whirlwind it has been for you. However, one thing that I am sure of, this is something you can handle. Of course, it won’t be a smooth path, your battles have proven that, but seeing you grow up, I know you have the grit and all it takes to face any challenge you will encounter.” “Uhm…” “I am not yet done son.” dad said with a mixture of a fatherly tone and warm expression. “Okay.” “Remember, you are not alone. You have me, you have Victor, and you have your family and friends to share the burden with you. Don’t ever forget that. You are not alone Chris, you have us.” I smiled at my father, “thanks dad, I needed that.” “I thought so. Come give your father a hug.” Early afternoon, Kalron dropped by my study to give me an update. “Any developments?” “If things remain the same, my team is fairly confident that Konrad’s mission will succeed.” “That’s good to hear. Have they said what they plan to do if the captured demons are still alive?” “Aside from having our agents contain them, they’ve said nothing. However I am assuming handling the captured demons will be mainly an elvish matter. Especially since we outdo the others when it comes to magic.” “Do we have any facility to handle or contain demons?” “With their assumed weakness due to Yonthar’s absence, the retrofits we’ve made in our New York facility should suffice.” “I see.” “Any new information about Citadel Corp? To be honest, them venturing into demon experimentation is disturbing.” “I agree with you Chris, there’s so much we don’t know about demons yet this company just went for it. I am concerned that this will not only backfire on them, but whatever repercussions their experimentation leads to, might have larger and long lasting effects to the rest of the world.” “Do you think Konrad’s contingent can handle Orion and Citadel together?” “Not at its current state. I think they already know it, most likely they’ll ask for more reinforcements when it comes to that.” “Why couldn’t we just do a three pronged attack similar to what we did with Yonthar?” I asked. “The vampires are very stubborn with taking the matters concerning the syndicates mostly under their terms.” “Any updates with the other demons that have escaped Yonthar’s compounds?” “None.” “I am worried that they have regrouped, or worse, joined the other generals. Speaking of the other generals, any idea or clue as to where they could be? Their silence is deafening and it’s getting me worried. If they are so quiet and have not tripped any wires, they must be taking their time, planning something big and I don’t want it to be too late when we find out.” “I am already coordinating with my counterparts from the VHC and WCC, our teams are working non-stop trying to find out where they are hiding.” “They’re lurking in shadows, I’m sure,” I said, gritting my teeth in frustration. “We’ll get them Chris, we will.” “I hope so. Could they possibly be outside the United States?” I asked, realizing that the entire world is a possible battlefield, I am very sure demons don’t care about borders. “We have taken the necessary measures to monitor developments abroad. However, I will have to admit our capacity is limited especially in countries where security is tenuous and governments are weak.” “I understand Kalron.” I sighed in resignation to the large task at hand. I then went to the Tower to read. I brought with me the large book that I have continued to fail to decipher, I wasn’t expecting any revelation from it anytime soon, but I couldn’t leave the small chance of it suddenly revealing something. I left the large book on top of a desk and went around the basement level and looked for scrolls and books for me to read. I ended with 5 scrolls and 2 books after letting my senses guide me. I yawned after reading the books, and then thought out loud, as I caressed the large unreadable book in front of me, “When will you reveal yourself? What do I have to do?” I felt a tingle on my skin and heard the distant rustling of chains. I looked around and saw nothing. “Evalta par Shazag” I mumbled as I played with the white leather cover of the book. “Soon,” I heard a distant whisper. “What? Anyone out there?” “Patience, your time will come,” the voice cooed. “What do you mean?” “Time to sleep young prince,” I heard as my vision blurred. I was woken up by a knock on my door, “come in” I groaned. “Chris, time for dinner, don’t forget we have to go to the realm soon.” Etalos said. “Yes, give me 5 minutes.” “Okay.” Dinner was delicious as usual, after which, Etalos and I went to the realm to talk to Patri. “How are you Chris?” Patri asked as I entered his office. “I am well.” “I have been told of your plans with the investors. I am impressed.” He beamed. “I hope I did okay.” I shyly replied. “You did more than okay Chris! You did marvelous.” “Thanks.” I shrugged. “Now, sit, we have to talk about your first public appearance in the realm.” “Oh, didn’t the café count?” I asked. “We need something bigger. You need to choose one of the four provinces as your first stop.” “What?” “Any appearance here in the capital, though greatly appreciated will not provide as big of an impact compared to visiting the provinces.” “Wouldn’t it show favoritism to a certain tribe if I visited a specific province first?” I asked. “You’re right and that’s a message we don’t want to send. It’s a dilemma indeed. However, at one point or another you’ll have to visit a province, it’s bound to happen.” I took a deep breath and collected my thoughts, “How about the City of Katar? It’s of equal status to a province, right?” Patri was wide-eyed at my suggestion, “Chris, but that city is Havar’s.” “I know, and your relationship with him is not the best, if I show up on his turf, it might send a message of some sort of reconciliation or it might at least dampen the rumors about the tension between the two of you.” “Or… they could spin it as you choosing him over me.” “Patri, you know I’d never do that!” I gasped. “I know, just telling you of how the media could frame it.” “Havar has been asking for me to meet him again, I am sure he’d be more than happy to host my first public appearance.” “Of course he is, you are his only key to the Astra Spell.” Patri said with a worried tone. “Patri, I assure you, Prince Havar will never be able to convince me to cast that spell. I barely know anything about it.” “Just be careful around him. His willingness to protect our kind has brought him to the extreme.” “I know…” I paused, “Patri, think about it, if I visit Katar first, then I won’t be showing any favoritism to a certain tribe. Yes, I know Katar is still Elurdeya dominated but it wasn’t designed to be a tribal bastion like the other provinces, at least we can avoid any controversies from the tribes.” I said. “I see your point Chris.” “So? Is that a yes Patri?” “I’ll think about it.” “Okay, just let me know what your decision is.” It didn’t take long for me to fall asleep that night. I opened my eyes finding myself in a grassy field. Looking around I marveled at the eerie beauty of the landscape around me. Colorful trees in the distance with snowcapped mountains even farther on the horizon. “Where am I?” I asked myself. As I lost myself at the beauty of my surroundings, I was taken out of my reverie when I noticed, I am not alone. I jerked backwards seeing four versions of myself in front of me. “Who are you?” I carefully asked. No response. “Hello?” I asked as I warily eyed my clones. No response. “Yonthar?” I asked. “Do not compare us to that filth,” they simultaneously replied. Their voices echoed in the air, it was that of multiple people, and I couldn’t decipher which voice came from whom. I felt a powerful presence surround me as I eyed the four in front of me. My chains tingled, and started to loosen as their flat expressions turned to a small grin. “What are you doing to me?” I asked in near panic as I felt the chains continue to loosen, the power within starting to surface. I started to shake and pant as waves of energy pulsed from my skin. My body was vibrating as it released brilliant silver and gold light. Streaks of gold and silver spread across my frame as the four reflections watched in silence as I lost control of my power. “What are you doing to me?” I gasped as I fell to my knees. “The moment of the anointed is at hand, soon you will know,” they replied. “What moment?” I asked in confusion as my body continued to tremble. It was like another Kumhakta but much more powerful though less painful. “Worry not, child. This is all a taste of what you truly are.” And with that I felt the chains snap back into place, containing my energy. I allowed myself to fall on the ground, moments later, looking up, I find myself alone again. “What the hell?” I thought. I took several deep breathes to calm myself, minutes later I regain the strength to stand. Looking around, I confirm that the presence has left. I am left alarmed and confused to what just occurred. “Hey wake up, you have your big tv appearance today.” I hear Etalos say as he nudges me awake. I yawned as I sat on my bed and rubbed my eyes. “Had a good night’s sleep?” Etalos asked. “Hmm… I had a dream,” I retorted. “What dream?” “I was in a field…” “A field, what kind of field?” “A beautiful field.” “What else happened?” Etalos asked smiling at me. “I don’t remember.”
  10. Chapter 107 – The Young Politician 1 “I’ll have to admit, you scared me back there.” My uncle said as the three of us ate dinner. King Ethnar chuckled a bit, then added, “When his eyes flash purple, well, you cannot help but be afraid.” He laughed a bit more then with a more serious tone, asked, “Is that something you acquired from Yonthar?” I shifted on my seat a bit then replied, “Yeah, I think so, it appears that even though I’m continuously integrating him into me, the flashes of purple in my eyes might remain whenever I’m angry.” My great grandfather remained quiet for a moment, he cupped his chin then rubbed it for moment, thinking things through, he then replied, “I see, at least there is no hiding your anger from us,” King Ethnar chuckled. “Oh, yeah, there’s no hiding it when I’m angry,” I grinned at them at the same time I pulled some of Yonthar’s powers into the surface then with the shocked expressions on their faces, I think I successfully willed my eyes into shining purple. “You can control it?” my uncle asked in disbelief. “Not completely, I just thought of pulling Yonthar’s powers to the surface, apparently that does the trick too,” I smiled at him. “You are definitely full of surprises,” King Ethnar mused. “Have you found any materials from the Tower that might help you get Yonthar’s powers under control?” my uncle asked. “I’ve tried sifting through some material but not much progress on that regard.” I sadly replied. I took a deep breath with a hint of frustration, then added, “There’s also this book that I can’t read. It was originally composed of 3 books, then it fused into one. The writings are old, even with whatever ancient elvish I’ve acquired, this one’s different.” “Has this happened before?” King Ethnar asked. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Not fully understanding things in the tower.” “Yeah, actually, it happens more often than I’d care to admit. Whenever it does happen though, somehow the contents or knowledge are just revealed at a later date. I just hope that whatever is in that book will be revealed in the same manner as well.” “Very few elves have been blessed by an invitation to the Tower. The one before you was 200 years ago.” King Ethnar said. “I wonder what was revealed to him then.” I mused. “You can go ask him, but I don’t think you’d like the answer.” King Ethnar replied. “You know him?” I asked slightly shocked at the possibility of meeting someone who has been invited by the tower before. “Yeah… It’s Havar.” Silence. “Am sorry what?” I uncomfortably asked. “He has been invited by the tower once. Whatever he learned from it, he has mainly kept to himself. We do know he learned of the Astra Spell then.” “Are you serious?” “Yes.” “He makes me uncomfortable, and I don’t agree with his vision for Earth.” “You have to be careful around him Chris,” my uncle added. “I know.” Then shifting the topic away from Prince Havar, I said, “Well, I’ll just have to figure it out soon enough. Also, you do know that I can invite people into the Tower right?” King Ethnar gave me an amused smirk, then replied, “Or so we have heard. Honestly, I am kind of miffed you have not extended the invitation to more. I mean, you have brought my son and Yal in there many times right?” “Yeah… I actually have.” “Though they don’t have permission to acquire the same knowledge that you have been given access to. As far as I recall, father told me that he could not grasp the knowledge contained in several scrolls and books. Though he can, with the ones that contained knowledge similar or just a bit more advanced than the ones we already have in other libraries in realm,” my uncle said. “Why is the tower so selective?” I thought out load. “I mean, it’s knowledge. It should be shared!” “Information in the hands of the wrong people is dangerous Chris. Imagine if Havar got hold of everything you have learned so far.” King Ethnar warned. “So why was he invited in the first place?” I asked, slightly annoyed. “That we don’t know. The Tower has been part of our people for the longest time. We are just glad it moved with us to the realm, it would have been a logistical nightmare to organize its security on earth if it stayed there.” “According to legend, the tower is a physical manifestation of the flow,” my uncle said. “Really?” I asked wide-eyed. “There is no way for us to confirm that but we have studied the tower from the outside and all results indicate that aside from being a repository of knowledge, it also contains a large amount of magical energy. Being a physical manifestation of the flow might be a good explanation for it, but again, we have to be cautious in drawing conclusions as we know so little about the Tower. I will have to admit that we, as a people, have taken its existence for granted for millennia.” King Ethnar answered with a serious and introspective tone. “And what of this flow? How much do we know about it?” I asked. “What we know is that it is magic, energy, life, and death, all rolled into one. It is what makes everything around us possible.” King Ethnar replied. “That’s kind of too all-encompassing don’t you think?” “Spell-casting magic, elemental magic, those are just its subsets. A grand unified understanding of the flow eludes us.” King Ethnar sadly remarked as he started to stare at his food. *groan “It’s all just too confusing and frustrating.” I complained. “It certainly is but I am fairly certain that more will be revealed to you soon. You are certainly the first one in millennia that the Tower has given multiple audience to.” King Ethnar added. “What?” I stammered. “What do you mean?” “Havar has been given the chance to visit the tower once, and on record the elves before you did not as much get as a second or third chance to visit it. As far as I know, you are the only one, or the only one we know of, to have such free reign in visiting the tower.” “Why is this the first time I’m hearing this?” I replied with a slight edge in my voice, frustrated and confused for so many reasons. “I honestly thought someone had already told you.” King Ethnar replied. “Does this mean that maybe one day…” My voice trailed off then I continued, “that one day I won’t have access to it again?!” I remarked in alarm. “We don’t know. It appears the tower has grown fond of you.” My uncle chuckled a bit, which slightly alleviates my growing levels of distress. After dinner, and a few more minutes of light hearted conversation, my uncle and I left King Ethnar’s estate. My great grandfather made me promise to visit him more often, which I couldn’t help but say yes to. The sun has already set as we went through the countryside. Being 1,800 kilometers across, the realm certainly has enough space for 90 million elves, but I can’t help but think that the people would certainly benefit if the place was bigger. Gotta ask Patri if there’s a way to enlarge the realm, could be a pet project of mine once I get stronger. —- “Were you able to eat dinner Vernos?” I asked seated beside him. “Yes, your highness, I ate with the guards.” “Good, I hope you were fed well.” “Of course sir and thanks for asking,” Vernos replied slightly uncomfortable from his seat. “Chris, you’re making him nervous again.” My uncle remarked slightly amused from the back seat. “Why are you still nervous around me Vernos? Have I given you any reason to?” “No…” “Then chill, you’re too uptight” I said as I patted his shoulder. He froze a bit but I sensed the tension slightly easing out of his body as I continued to talk to him about other stuff. —- We made it back to the main palace almost 3 hours after leaving Ashtelon. We thanked Vernos and made our way to Patri’s office. “I understand your training went well. Father could not help but be pleased with the results. He says you are much more advanced than what Estano and Etgaros have said.” Patri beamed with pride. “It was okay, I guess,” I uncomfortably replied as I scratched my back. “Don’t believe him for a second father. Chris was amazing!” My uncle chimed in with excitement and pride in his voice. “Well, we did not expect any less from the Platinum Prince,” Patri winked at me. He paused for a moment then added, “good touch on your visit to that café by the way.” “It was just a quick stop over Patri,” I shrugged. “Well, the media went nuts, pictures and videos of you have made their rounds on the airwaves and on social media too! That moment with the kid though, well, that was just amazing. I believe your PR team will be pleased with the results. Despite it being unplanned I think whatever happened will work in your favor.” “I really don’t know why they’re so into me though. I mean…” Patri cut me off, “Chris, you are a prince. Being in the limelight comes with being a royal and remember your Ascension was not that long ago and it was something the people felt all over the realm. If it took several months or years for our citizens to get over the ascensions of your uncles and your mother, well believe me, it would take them longer to forget about yours. Elves have very long lives remember?” “Chris, this is a good thing. I mean have you seen the full video of your Ascension? It was spectacular!” My uncle enthusiastically chimed in from behind me. “I haven’t uncle and wait… there’s a video of my Ascension?” “Of course there is, it hasn’t been released to the public yet but it is going to be made public soon.” My uncle replied. *groan* “Changing topics, Patri, what’s this matter with the meeting requested by investors?” Patri gave me a satisfied smirk, “It is an earth matter. I believe that is under your responsibility as ambassador.” “But but… it is an economic matter too. That’s something beyond me.” I complained. “That is why Minister Neyana will join you.” Patri tersely replied. “Wear your big boy pants nephew. If you could beat a demon general, what’s a meeting with several wealthy elves?” My uncle added as he gripped both shoulders from the back. I looked at my uncle, he was smiling at me, I couldn’t help but shrug and resign myself to this task. “Your uncle is right Chris. Don’t tell me you’d rather battle demons than discuss boring figures and business plans with people?” Patri smiled with a slightly raised eyebrow at me. — It was almost lunch time when I got back to Greensburg. “There you are!” Leo greeted me as I went into the kitchen. “Yeah, sorry, Patri whisked me away for some training with King Ethnar.” “Training with your great grandfather?” Leo shuddered a bit. “Yeah…” “How was it, well… you’re still clearly in one piece.” Leo teased. “One of these days, I will win against him.” “So you lost again this time huh?” “Sadly, yes, but oh well. I’ll just work harder. Next time he won’t know what hit him!” I grinned at Leo. “That’s the spirit Chris. I want to be there next time too! You sparring sessions serve as great inspiration for me to work harder.” “I’ll make sure you’re there. Speaking of your training, how are you doing?” “Well, I am slowly improving, my fire balls are larger and hotter now.” “Feel free to use the portal okay? I’m sure there are tons of people available to train you. I’ll talk to Yal to have it arranged.” “He already did! Me and your dad will be taking lessons at the palace several times a week!” My best friend replied with excitement. The joy coming from my best friend was as obvious as ever. “They say I’m progressing quite well, your dad is learning fast too! Our instructors seem to be quite surprised with how much we’ve come along.” “That’s good to hear Leo,” I replied as I pulled my best friend in for a hug. “I’m so proud of you.” I added. “Thanks Chris, this really means a lot to me.” Leo replied trying to hold back tears. “Soon enough you should be Silver level.” I stated. “Well, I don’t know about that Chris. My leap from Copper to Bronze was certainly a surprise, but doesn’t it take several years if not decades for someone to reach Silver? I also learned that very few even reach Bronze or Silver to begin with,” Leo replied with a tone that told me that he was resigned to being a bronze level for years to come. “Not under my watch Leo. Just work hard and learn as much as you can. Don’t over exert yourself though, just do what feels right. Zenfar once told me to just follow the magic, and I suggest you do the same.” I said in a rather encouraging tone. “Follow the magic?” Leo replied with a confused look. “What the hell is the supposed to mean?” I cracked a smile, and replied, “Honestly, I don’t know!” we both fell into laughter at that. After several seconds of laughter, I added, “Seriously though, just do whatever feels right. I have a good feeling about you and dad. Etalos moved into Silver recently as well, maybe he can give you some tips.” “Aww thanks Chris, okay, I’ll ask that cute elf of yours.” “Cute elf? Where?” August said walking in on us. “He means, Etalos…” I replied. “Oh.” August replied, then he smiled, “yeah, he’s cute.” “Hey! I thought you only had eyes for me!” Leo joked. “Of course I do, but you said it yourself, Etalos is cute.” “You dodged a bullet this time mister,” Leo smiled as he poked August’s well defined chest. The alpha grinned and pulled my best friend into him. He gave Leo a chaste kiss that devolved into full on spit swapping. Okay, I think that’s my cue to leave. —- “Hey, you’re back.” Etalos said as I bumped into him in the corridor. “Yeah, I hope I didn’t miss anything important.” “All sorted, your grandfather gave word that you would be out for several hours.” “Oh.” “Yeah. Is Leo downstairs?” “If I’m guessing correctly, I think he’s still playing tongue wars with his boyfriend downstairs. Why?” Etalos blushed as the mental image of August and Leo making out flashed into his mind. “We were supposed to practice some spells this afternoon.” “Oh, I see, well…” “I’ll be off then, hopefully he’s done making out with August.” Etalos giggled. What a cute little bugger Etalos is. —- Kalron joined me to visit Victor’s place that afternoon. We had to talk about our next move regarding the vampire syndicates. “Hey Troy, where’s Victor and Henry?” I asked, as I bumped into Troy just as Kalron and I were about to climb the stairs. “They’re upstairs in Victor’s study.” “I’ll have snacks prepared for you. It seems you’re going to discuss something important.” “That seems to be the case. Thanks.” Victor and Henry were already seated and appeared to be in deep conversation when Kalron and I arrived. “Hey…” I said. “Come come, take a seat.” Victor winked at me as he flashed me his heart melting smile. “Reza and Konrad will be join us via video, they should be online soon.” Henry added. “Oh, this seems really serious then huh?” I quipped. “It is, but nothing we can’t handle.” Henry replied. Victor just gave me a reassuring smile. Reza and Konrad were both in the same video feed projected on a large screen in Victor’s study. “Hi Reza… Konrad.” Victor said. “Hello, I hope all is well at your end.” Reza replied. “It is, and I hope all is well at yours to,” Victor said. “Well, with everything that is happening around us, it could be better but it is not that bad. We are much more prepared than we were a few months ago.” Reza retorted. “So, Reza, what do you think we should do with the syndicates.” Victor asked. “I have discussed the matter with several members of the council, and some strongly feel that we should take ownership of this matter.” “What do you mean by that?” I chimed in. “Chris, vampire syndicates have abducted demons, those syndicates should have been dealt with by us a long time ago.” Reza replied, sincere yet with a hint of embarrassment. “But you yourselves said that these syndicates are already weakened. You’ve done enough to trim their influence.” I replied. “Yes we have, but our efforts clearly were not enough. Now, it has come to this. Three syndicates Chris! Three! Can you imagine what trouble could come if those three somehow are able to harness demon magic?” Reza asked, slightly alarmed at the prospect of a resurgence of the syndicates, a threat which they’ve seriously worked hard to contain. “So what do you have in mind?” I asked. “We would like to lead in the operation against the syndicates. Of course, we will need elvish assistance, we do not have the means to contain demonic influence. As much as Yonthar’s demons have weakened, we cannot take the risk of our agents falling prey.” Konrad answered for his husband. “Of course we are willing to help. That is what the treaty amongst our kind is for.” I replied. Reza smiled at me, “I am glad to hear that Chris.” “As mentioned earlier, the council feels that we should take the lead on this one. With that we propose to deploy Stratos agents against the syndicates.” Konrad added. He paused then continued, “We would like some elves to help us in the operation as well. We plan to take the syndicates one by one. We would stretch our forces too thin if we attacked them all at the same time.” “Okay, we’re listening. What’s the plan?” I asked. “So far, we have the most information on the Red Pyramid. We have discovered that they are keeping the two demons at different warehouses outside Phoenix. We also think they are the weakest among the three syndicates, so we believe it is best to attack them first.” Konrad replied. I looked at Kalron as if to ask if he had anything to add regarding the involved syndicate. He took the hint, then replied, “We may have additional information on the Red Pyramid. I could send you the files right now.” “Thank you Kalron, your team’s efforts have certainly helped us, and this is just another proof that we have to strengthen our coordination and intelligence sharing.” Reza said. “I will personally lead the operation. I will also be joined by District 18’s governor, Elizabeth Teller.” Konrad said. “How can we help?” I asked. “5 to 6 agents from your group,” Konrad replied. “No werewolves involved this time?” I curiously asked. “No, we don’t want them to feel that we are unnecessarily involving them in vampire affairs,” Victor remarked. “But demons are involved.” I complained. “If demons are involved, we should face this together. The alliance is young and haven’t you guys thought that excluding the werewolves this early might make them feel put off?” I asked slightly miffed that they did not think things through. “What do you suggest Chris?” Henry asked. “Let us at least talk to them. If they are okay with them not being involved, then fine, we’ll help you without them. Let’s not assume that their default position is to not join, what if it’s the other way around?” I asked, as I moved my hand aloft in the air. Reza grinned, “You make a fine negotiator Chris. I’ll bring this matter up with the Council.” “Reza, I don’t want to impose but I strongly feel that we should be more open with each other. Just think about, what would the VHC feel if we went on an operation with just the WCC and not even inviting you?” Reza smiled, “We sometimes are so deep into the old ways, that we fail to see how our intentions could be misinterpreted from the outside. Thank you, Chris, we will consider what you have just said.” I smiled back at Reza, “Remember Reza, you initiated this alliance.” I winked at him. “Fair enough,” he smiled back at me. We ended the meeting several minutes later, after discussing a possible role for the WCC in the vampire-led operations. — “How are you Henry?” I asked, as I flopped on one of Victor’s large couches. “What do you mean Chris?” “We have barely seen each other, I gather that being officer for Virginia has gotten you all busy?” I teased. Henry snorted, “Busy is one way to put it. I have been shadowing Victor for ages, but how he does it I do not know, it is totally different when you are the one doing it firsthand.” “I am sure you are doing just fine.” “I guess, but there is so much to learn and so many things to handle and now it’s me that’s making the decisions. Okay, Patrick does order me around a bit from Atlanta but I am making more decisions now. Whenever I ask Victor, he just tells me to do what I think is best.” “Well, it is clear that Victor trusts you.” I replied. “Where’s my boyfriend anyway?” “I guess he is downstairs with Kalron.” “What could they be up to?” I asked. Victor and Kalron joined us a moment later. “Where were you guys?” I curiously asked. Victor and Kalron just exchanged knowing glances but kept silent nonetheless. I shot my boyfriend a glare but he just smiled in return. “What is it?” I spoke mind to mind with Victor. “What? Nothing…” Victor replied amused. “Victor, fess up, you are hiding something.” “Fine fine, you didn’t hear it from me though…” “What is it?” “Kalron… “ “What about him?” “He likes Etalos but doesn’t know how to move forward. He was just asking for tips and stuff.” “Wait what?” I sat wide-eyed. “Hey, we’re still here you know?” Henry teased as his voiced pulled me out of my private conversation with Victor. “Sorry, sometimes we both get lost into it.” I replied with a guilty smile. “Anyway, how about a snack?” Henry asked. “Sure, thing… what did you have in mind?” I asked. —- I was resting on Victor’s chest when I felt something. I immediately sat up and expanded my senses and reached out with my energy to confirm what I initially sensed. “What is it?” Victor asked, slightly worried with my change in demeanor. “Intruders.” “What?” “Rogue vampires, no, blood army.” I corrected myself. “Am sorry what?” “Blood Army, they just crossed into Greensburg. If I am not mistaken they are headed towards here.” “How could we miss this?” “Most likely this isn’t a well thought out plan of theres.” I gritted my teeth, “I’ll show them how wrong they are to come to our turf.” My eyes flashed purple. “Chris?” “Yes, I am still here. Don’t worry about me. Victor, you have expanded your range with your mind abilities right?” “Yes.” “Get all civilians within several blocks away from windows. Everyone that’s outside, make them find shelter. This is going to get ugly.” “Okay…” I picked my phone and dialed Kalron, “Kalron, have your sensors detected the intrusion?” “Yes, I was just about to call you. I am so sorry Chris, I am not sure how we could have missed this.” “Don’t mention it, it is something we can easily handle. They picked the wrong town to mess with.” Victor and I went outside, we were both joined by Henry and several of Victor’s guards. The streets were already empty thanks to Victor’s intervention, at least we could keep the civilians out of this. The rogue vampires arrived in three vans, they were surprised to see us already outside, prepared to take them on. A tall man, handsome, too pale for my liking got out of one of the vans and was followed by a dozen vampires. I sensed a rogue werewolf amongst them as well. “Councilor Meyer, how good of you to welcome us.” The man sneered. “And who might you be?” Victor shot back. “Oh, where are my manners. I am Edwin Ballard, second in command of the Red Sun Faction of the Blood Army.” “Red Sun? Hmm, that’s the first time I’ve heard of that faction.” “We’re the newest faction. We are tired of the old ways of the three founders of the Army. They are too cautious for our liking. We want the accords to end as soon as possible.” Edwin confidently replied. “And with that in mind… you visit me?” Victor chuckled. “You are the newest VHC Councilor, what better way to introduce ourselves to the vampire world than by killing you. With that the other factions of the Army will treat us more seriously.” “Ohh, is that so?” Victor confidently replied. While Victor was talking to the head vampire, I took my time scouring their minds. I was careful but it appeared they were all too inexperienced to even sense my probing even if I didn’t take precaution. I gathered that although members of the Blood Army, this faction is the most amateurish of them all, they wagered on a high stakes mission against the newest council member, assuming Victor was the weakest of them. They were dead wrong. I might be stronger than Victor, but he could seriously give almost any other vampire a run for their money, except maybe for Reza and Konrad. I gathered as much information about them, then I gave Victor the sign that I was done. “So this is where the Red Sun rises to the pedestal of greatness.” Edwin barked as he commanded his troops to attack. They were armed, they had guns and knives with them. One was brazen enough to throw a grenade. I reached out with my magic and enclosed the man together with his grenade in an energy bubble, let’s just say he met his end with this own weapon. Edwin was shocked with my display of magic but he didn’t have time to gawk as Victor’s agents retaliated. Victor joined in the fray, he took two or three vampires at a time with ease, gosh is my boyfriend hot, he moved so smoothly and swiftly from one vampire to another with ease. Edwin growled in frustration as he saw his troops fall one by one. “Get up you weaklings!” Edwin shouted in frustration. “I think you’ve severely miscalculated this move.” I said to him. “And who might you be?” He cocked his eyebrows at me. “I am Victor’s boyfriend. Chris Rogers.” I winked at him. “Boyfriend eh?” He grinned. “I guess, you’ll do for now.” Wrong move. Instantly, I was in front of him, he wasn’t even able to fully process the fact that I had moved as I shot him with a powerful energy blast. His shirt burned off his skin, and his stomach blistered with my attack. “What the hell?” He shouted in pain. “That was just warm up,” I smiled at him. I walked up to him as Edwin struggled to stand. “You messed with the wrong couple.” I waved my hand around, to show him that all his followers had already been dealt with. “How…” he asked in disbelief. “You should clearly reconsider your attack options in the future.” I snapped my fingers a few feet away from him, and the energy I released threw the helpless vampire at least 15 feet away. “I guess, I’ll call officers to deal with them.” Victor remarked as he approached me. “If they were any more of a threat, I don’t think they would be leaving alive,” I replied as I glared on the vampires in pain. “Can’t believe they were so careless to attack us.” Victor mused. “Maybe they were some sort of pawn. To test our defenses. Edwin seemed clueless but we don’t know much about this new faction.” I thought out loud. “You’re right. I’ll have our people look into it, I am sure Kalron will do the same. This just shows that we have to strengthen our monitoring abilities. How did you sense them anyway?” “Oh, I still couldn’t make the shield around town but I did the next best thing and cast multiple spells that would give us some sort of warning about people bearing ill intentions and boy did this group radiate so much ill intent.” “Wow Chris, I guess we owe you for this.” I closed the distance between Victor and myself and pulled him into a hug, “You don’t owe me anything, we’re in this, together right? And anyways, I’m sure you could have easily dealt with them yourself without me.” “Still, thanks.” “Always a pleasure Mr. Meyer.” —- Yal, Kalron, and Etalos were in my study. I called them for a debrief about what happened at Victor’s place. “Kalron, coordinate with Victor’s agents to trace and gather whatever information you have on this new faction of the Blood Army. I am guessing the older members of the Blood Army have gone wary and cautious with Agatha Thorne’s death and several members are growing restless with the lack of action.” “Yes, Chris. I’ll work on it.” “Chris, you should rest,” Etalos suggested from beside Kalron. “I’m fine, seriously, I barely broke a sweat. However this attack just reminded me that this town is too important to be left unprotected.” “What are you thinking of Chris?” Yal asked. “An energy barrier around the town.” “Chris, that will require too much energy.” Yal cautioned me. “I know, and I also know, I’m not yet strong enough, but I wanted to let you know that is the goal.” “Okay, but don’t over exert yourself. Your early warning spells seem to suffice for the moment.” Yal replied. “Yeah, certainly gave us maybe 5 or 10 minutes warning.” “Should we talk to the King about having more guards assigned to you?” Yal asked. “Can the realm afford to spare?” “I am sure they can. Prince Selvenus and Prince Rehanmir have already streamlined the Royal and Civil Guard. Akros has been reorganized by Jetan as well, our forces are more efficient and better prepared now.” “Fine, I’ll talk to Patri about it.” “With Victor being a Councilor, and August moving here, I suppose they should bolster their numbers as well. Maybe even work on a joint security operation for this town.” Yal suggested. “That doesn’t sound bad at all. I will talk to them about it.” —- I went back to the tower with my unreadable book in tow. I took a spot at one of the desks, and started flipping pages. Much to my frustration, the book wouldn’t give, nothing at all. I couldn’t understand it. I groaned in frustration, I mean why this book revealed itself to me but not its contents. “Patience,” I softly heard from a young girl’s voice. “Huh?” I looked around. “Soon, all will be revealed.” Came from an older man. “Who is out there?” I asked. “Please, I am confused.” “Aren’t we all,” came from a younger boy’s voice. “I have a feeling this isn’t the first time we’ve spoken.” “Oh, he is remembering,” said a female voice in mild surprise. “He can’t possibly be breaking through our magic so soon,” a young boy queried. “Never mind, he is bound to know one day.” Soothed a young girl. “I think I am going crazy,” I muttered “Wait, I’ve said that before haven’t I?” I recalled. “Sssh, it is too soon,” said a woman. “4 voices huh?” What’s up with that? I mused. “It is time to go back to sleep now young prince.” “What?” “The flow shall blossom in full soon enough,” added the young boy. “You are all confusing me,” “Shh, sleep.” —- I woke up in my bed, remembering that I was in tower then, nothing. Huh, curious, I think this has happened before but I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I stretched as my body awakened with sunlight barely peering through my windows. Another busy day for me I guess.
  11. Chapter 106 - Masters of Earth 2 Uncle Selvenus and I were in the backseat of a modified Rolls Royce Cullinan on our way to Ashtelon. We were driven by a handsome Italian looking elf. Who looked to be in his mid twenties and had a clean shaven face, light bronze skin and amazing hazel eyes. “What’s your name?” I asked. “I’m Vernos, your highness,” he replied as he looked at me the rear view mirror. “Nice to meet you Vernos. I’m Chris and this is my uncle, Selvenus,” I warmly replied, as I looked back at him through the rear view mirror as well. “It’s a pleasure your highnesses,” Vernos replied, with a stammer. “You’re making him nervous,” my uncle whispered to me. I slightly raised my eyebrow and asked, “what do you mean by that?” “Chris, uhm, in the palace rumors have been spreading about how powerful you are, Vernos here was the only one brave enough to volunteer to serve as your driver and guard while Nomir is away. But it doesn’t mean he’s not intimidated by you” “Ohh... I don’t like the sound of that,” I replied. A few minutes passed and we had just left the outer edges of the capital through the northern highway when I asked Vernos to stop the car. “Is there something wrong your highness?” He nervously asked. My uncle on the other hand just gave me a confused look. I smiled at the both of them and replied, “I want to get to know you better Vernos. I wanna sit beside you in front.” “Huh?” Vernos replied nervously. I didn’t give him the chance to protest as I opened the door and transferred to the front seat beside Vernos. I smiled at him as I took my seat and said, “Now that we’re this close, I can get to know more about you in the next 2 and half hours.” Vernos visibly gulped as he resumed driving towards Ashtelon. “Uncle, are we passing by any towns or villages on our way to Ashtelon?” I asked as I looked at the colorful countryside of the Northern Province. “Yes, we should pass by several villages and towns. Why do you ask?” “I’m getting hungry, can we drop by a place where we can buy some food?” “Of course Chris, that won’t be a problem. I was getting hungry myself,” my uncle chuckled. “Patri just sprung this trip on me, and I didn’t have the time to grab snacks. I hate road trips without food, gets me all grumpy,” I remarked. As I said that, I felt the tension coming in waves from Vernos. “You... your highness, I know this place just a few kilometers away, it’s the second village that from the capital. It’s nothing much, but there’s a really nice cafe there that sells amazing sandwiches,” Vernos said with a slight edge in his voice. “Oh, that’s good Vernos. I was craving for sandwiches myself,” I smiled back at him. The highway was mainly empty, aside from a few other cars. It appears that most of the people preferred to travel via the trains. Speaking of which, with the highway several meters away from the high speed track, seeing the bullet trains zoom past us was a marvelous sight. “So, regretting not taking the train?” My uncle teased from the back. “Nah, I like this too, and we get to stop whenever we want.” A few minutes later, we exited the highway as we reached the village of Transar. The village had several houses and buildings but it was clearly what it was, a village, quiet and quaint. The structures were mainly single story, had walls painted with a light yellow hue and dark orange tiled roofs. “So, is this where we find this cafe you were talking about?” I asked Vernos. “Yes, your highness, it’s just around this corner,” Vernos replied as he parked the car. I noticed there were very few people outside, and the narrow cobblestone roads were mainly empty as well. “There are so few people,” I mused. “Villages have less than 1,000 inhabitants, so places like Transar are very quiet,” Vernos remarked. “Oh, I see.” I replied as I took a moment to take in the overall vibe of the village. I then smiled at Vernos and my uncle and asked, “So what do you guys want? My treat!” “Uhh...” Vernos paused, “I think I should go in and buy for you your highness,” “Nonsense, I can handle buying my own food,” I grinned back at him. My uncle had an amused expression on his face, at some point it appeared he wanted to tell me something but he just shook his head in resignation and replied, “some juice would be nice, and if they have Athran bread, that would be good.” I then looked expectantly at Vernos and tilted my head towards the coffee shop as if to ask for his order, “some juice and maybe some bite sized cookies would be nice, their purple chocolate biscuits are delicious.” “Got it!” I grinned at him and held a thumbs up towards him as I opened the door and got out of the car. Transar Cafe, that’s the name of the place. It had a green wooden door and had large green framed windows as well. Its walls were exposed yellowish brick that gave it a very old world feeling. I could see some people inside the café, but it was at most only a quarter full. I opened the door and heard a bell chime as I entered. As soon as I stepped inside, the first thing I noticed was the sweet aroma of various pastries and deserts, a hint of fruit lingered as well. At first no one paid attention at me, as I took my time checking out the menu and the food behind the glass display. Then I heard a gasp from someone in front of me. It was from a teenage looking boy, with dark blonde hair and brown eyes at the till, he looked at me with an expression of surprise and disbelief. “Hi there!” I smiled at him. His mouth moved but no words came out of it. “Uhh... are you okay? Uhm, can you suggest anything for me? I’m not sure what I should buy, hehe, but boy am I hungry,” I smiled back at him. “Uh... uhm... your highness!” He bowed as he regained his composure. ‘Your highness?’ The words echoed in my head. I then looked at my outfit, and the tight red and gold robes couldn’t have screamed royalty any louder. I then checked my hand, and yep, no detractor ring on me, ‘fuck!’ “Hehe, calm down,” I replied to the young elf. “Prince Christopher, it’s a pleasure!” The young man exclaimed. The elf was certainly out of his wits, he was clearly in a state of panic and star struck at the same time. “So, what do you suggest I have?” I asked him. “Uhm, our Prefna cookies and Taka bread are our best sellers. You should try our Rainbow berry juice as well,” he replied, almost out of breath. “Then I’ll have that to go please. I’d also like 2 more rainbow berry juice, and purple chocolate biscuits and Athran bread too.” “Uh... yes yes, I’ll have them ready in a minute.” “Take your time, I smiled back at him.” I looked around the cafe as the young man prepared my order and I noticed everyone’s attention was now on me. Oh oh. I didn’t notice that every conversation in the cafe stopped and all eyes have been set on me as I gave my order. I noticed a young couple seated at a table not far from me, they had a small child with them that looked to be 4 or 5. The young boy with dark brown hair was sitting on his mother’s lap, I decided to approach them. “Hello,” I smiled at the young family. “You... your highness,” they replied with a light bow. “And who is this young fellow?” I asked as I took a step closer to them. “I’m Nalron,” the young boy replied. “Nice to meet you Nalron. I’m Chris,” I said, as I reached out to him with my right hand. The young boy gave it his best possible shake as he giggled. “Up... up...” the boy remarked as he held my hand. “Ssh.. Nalron, he’s ...” The mother said in a slightly embarrassed and worried tone. “It’s fine, I’d gladly carry him if you’d allow it,” I replied as I reached out for Nalron and carried him. “You like that buddy?” I asked. “Yeah, you smell good,” he replied as he giggled into my chest. “Hehe, you’re funny Nalron,” I smiled back at the young boy. “So, you guys from around here?” I asked the couple. “Actually, we’re from Vanta, the next village over, but the cafe here is the best one within miles,” the young man replied. “Oh, I see. What are your names by the way? I’m sorry I wasn’t able to ask earlier.” “I’m Teknar and this is my wife Rekyana.” “Nice to meet you both,” I warmly smiled at them as I reached out to shake their hands. “It’s a pleasure your highness,” Rekyana replied as she shook my hand. “Your order is ready your highness,” the cafe worker said from near the till. “I think that’s my cue,” I winked at the couple as I handed Nalron back to them. “You be a good boy okay?” I said to Nalron to which the young boy vigorously nodded in recognition. I then went to the cash register and asked, “how much do I owe you?” “It’s on the house sir,” “Nonsense, I insist that I pay.” “Uhm... if that’s the case, then that will be 320 crowns.” He smiled at me. “Tell you what, I’d like to pay for everyone’s bill here as well.” I winked at the young elf. “Huh?” “Just hand me over the payment pad so I can scan my print, that should take care of their bills, right?” “Uhm... yes sir.” “Cool and uhm, what’s your name by the way?” “Benthad sir,” he replied “Nice to meet you Benthad,” I winked at him as I grabbed the to go carrier and went back to the car. As I got back in the car, my uncle had a knowing look on his face. “What?” I asked him. “What took you so long?” He teased. “Ugh, yeah yeah, I forgot what I was wearing and for the love of god, yeah I know I’m not wearing my ring,” I laughed as I handed him his food and drink. “Should be all over the news soon,” he slightly cocked his head towards the cafe, “I’m guessing whatever you ordered will be the next food craze around here,” my uncle added with a louder laugh. I could only grunt in agreement. I then handed Vernos his food and drink and we made our way back to the highway towards Ashtelon. —- I spent the next two hours getting to know Vernos. Our driver is from the Southern province, 44 years old, and is a silver level fire mage and has just been part of the royal guard for 2 years. “So, what made you volunteer to drive for us?” I teased Vernos as I immediately saw his body tense up. “You’re scaring him again Chris,” my uncle remarked from the back trying to hold back his laughter. “Do I scare you Vernos?” I looked at the driver/guard with my best innocent look and puppy eyes. The ones I gave my dad when he caught me eating an extra cookie when I was younger. “Uhm... uhm, yes your highness,” Vernos uncomfortably shifted on his seat. “Why though? Do I seem scary? Am I in any way intimidating?” I asked leaning closer to him. “No sir,” he squeaked. “Then why are there rumors of me being this sort of scary fella flying around?” “That’s just it your highness, you’re so nice but the aura and energy the guards are getting from you does not match what we’re seeing.” I looked at my uncle for an explanation. Uncle Selvenus chuckled as he sipped his juice, then answered, “he’s right you know, we really have to work on you controlling your energy signature, though it’s not as bad as before but there are times where you just give off these waves of powerful energy.” “I do? But Victor and even Etalos haven’t mentioned it.” “Most likely it’s because they’re already used to it. But to someone who is unfamiliar to you and is in the same room as you at the same moment you give off those waves, well, let’s just say they’re in for a wild ride.” “Did I have any episodes like that since we started this trip?” “None so far,” my uncle replied. I then set my attention back on Vernos. “Vernos, don’t be scared okay? I don’t bite. Hehe, it’s my boyfriend that does the biting,” I lightly laughed which coaxed a round of laughter from the driver and my uncle. “Don’t let my father hear that or maybe even Patri. I’m sure they’ll go apeshit at the thought of Victor biting you.” My uncle said with a cocky grin of his own. “What? But uncle... his bites are so goood, it’s euphoric!” “Vampire bites are designed to be like that and I've read it’s supposed to be more intense amongst lovers so... I can see where you’re coming from.” My uncle replied as he winked at me. Well, at least my uncle isn’t a prude and I’m starting to think uncle Selvenus is one of those ‘cool’ uncles. —- As we arrived at the outskirts of Ashtelon, I saw an imposing mansion perched on the side of a small hill. “That’s a nice place,” I offhandedly remarked as we got off the highway. “That’s Patri’s palace,” my uncle retorted. “King Ethnar lives there?” “Yeah, he wanted somewhere a little bit secluded but also accessible to the city. So, there you have it, a palace on the side of a hill.” “Wow...” The palace was only a fraction of the size of the royal palace in the capital, but it stood out of the countryside. It being perched on the side of a small hill made it seem larger as well. The entire hill was surrounded by low brick walls as the immediate vicinity were all King Ethnar’s. We stopped at a gate, at least several hundred feet from the base of the hill, with two guards. Vernos lowered his window and the guards exchanged surprised looks, as our driver told them that he was with two princes. I lowered my window as a guard approached me. He politely greeted me, and held out a pad to confirm our identities. I placed my palm on the thin screen and it went bright green. “Your highnesses,” the guard bowed, as he instructed his peer to open the gates for us. The gentle climb towards King Ethnar’s palace gave us an even better view of the green and yellow colored trees of the surrounding forest. “This place is beautiful,” I remarked. “Yeah, Patri is one of those outdoorsy types,” my uncle replied. We reached flat surface at the base of King Ethnar’s palace, around 300 feet above the forest. Several guards were waiting for us as we got out of the car. I looked up and the palace was just as imposing as it seemed from afar, it was easily 7 or 8 stories tall and we had to climb more than 100 steps to reach the main door. It had light yellow walls and dark green tiled roofs. The structure was neoclassical in style and had numerous windows, letting us know the interior had a lot of natural light. My great grandfather was waiting for us just outside the main doors. “Welcome! You made it!” He greeted as he pulled me and my uncle into a hug. “Hey Patri,” my uncle said. “Hey great grandfather,” I added. King Ethnar gave me an appraising look, then said, “Hmm... you’ve been calling me great grandfather for the longest time, and it’s quite too formal for my liking, and honestly, it makes me feel too old.” In my head, I replied, “aren’t you like a thousand years old?” But I bit my tongue at that. King Ethnar cupped his face with his right hand and started to tap his face with his fingers. “Hmm... you can’t call me grandfather or Patri as that would just be confusing. How about ... hmm, how do you earthers say it, ah, yes, gramps?” “Gramps?” I incredulously asked. “That would work, right?” King Ethnar smiled at me. “Uhm, yeah, but it’s a little bit too informal,” I replied. “You want to be formal around family? I don’t think that’s the way of Haldruin, Chris.” “Okay, gramps it is.” I smiled back at him. “Good good... come on, let’s catch up then let’s start with your training. Estano and Etgaros couldn’t stop talking about you when I asked them how your training went. I guess it’s time we level up your Earth magic skills eh?” King Ethnar asked as he raised an eyebrow at me. *gulp “Uhm... yeah, that sounds good” —- After having a late lunch, we went to King Ethnar’s training area. To get there we had to go to the palace’s basement and go through a series of well lit tunnels into the hill. Gramps, opened two large metal doors and I realized that the tunnels led to the side of the hill. It was a large flat open space perched on the side of the hill, maybe 100 or so feet from the forest. The area was large, maybe the size of a football field. “Here we are,” King Ethnar said as we walked into the expansive space. “Selvenus, why don’t you take a seat, and stay alert, I will need your help later on.” Gramps said. “So how do we go about this gramps? Any Earth magic theories to share?” I asked as I looked around. My great grandfather gave me a sly look and replied, “I’ve always thought that magic is bet taught through combat.” *gulp “Huh?” “Let’s make this harder for you, shall we? Since you’re all powerful and all. How about a handicap, so an old man like myself can have a chance against you?” I wanted to complain, last time I checked, he was the one that beat me. “What do you have in mind?” “You can’t use other elements. Just Earth magic.” “What?” “Why, don’t you think you can fight with just one element like any other elf out there?” I looked at my uncle for some support but uncle Selvenus only shrugged his shoulders in slight amusement. “Fine...” We both went to the middle of the large field, about 20 feet from each other. I steeled myself for what was to come. Then I heard my uncle shout, “begin!” King Ethnar immediately swung into action by stomping into the ground levitating two large boulders and hurled them towards me. I kicked the first boulder and it shattered to pieces while I punched the next one and it broke into large pieces. Seems like I didn’t punch it hard enough. I raised my hands in front of me, lifting two stone pillars up to my waist and the I swiped my hands above it creating disks of hard stone, I infused them with my powers and made them spin and flung them towards King Ethnar. “Not bad...” he mused as he dodged one disk after another. I stomped on the ground and sent a fissure towards my great grandfather, but with a stomp of his own, to my surprise, he was able to redirect the fissure away from him! With another stomp of his feet, King Ethnar sent a wave of rock and rubble towards me. I jumped away from it, and while on the air, I reached out to several large rocks and directed them towards the king. Gramps smirked at me, and with a light flick of his hand turned the rocks into sand. King Ethnar swirled his hands around and turned the rock around him into a large serpentine dragon, with a slight push from him the dragon flew towards me. I defended myself by conjuring a large wall of rock in front of me. The dragon hit the wall hard but it held. I breathed a sigh of relief, but not for long as King Ethnar punched through my barricade and started attacking me with punches and kicks. I was able to defend myself from most of King Ethnar’s attacks but it was getting harder by the minute. Damn he’s really strong and fast for his age. No, he’s strong and fast period. At one point King Ethnar hurled an energy ball against me, and I conjured an energy barrier around myself. “Hey, I thought only Earth magic.” “You misunderstood, Chris, I said no other elements. Spells are okay.” I grinned at him and then conjured multiple energy balls of my own and flung them all towards King Ethnar. He easily dodged them and with a shift in his stance, large boulders levitated from the ground, I felt him reinforcing them with spells then he hurled them at me. I met the reinforced boulders with concentrated balls of energy. King Ethnar was surprised to see his beloved boulders shatter to pieces. With just Earth Magic, I was at a disadvantage but with spells, well, let’s just say I’m more confident with my skills. “Don’t get cocky my boy,” King Ethnar grinned at me as he started a 9-layered Magnus Spell against me. Oh, Magnus spells, fun. I surprised King Ethnar by lifting a large boulder in front of me instead of meeting his attack with a Magnus Spell of my own. But I was just hiding behind the boulder, silently, and with barely any hand movement, I started multiple ancient Tashik incantations that led to a Magnus Spell of my own. King Ethnar shot a powerful energy beam towards me, and my reinforced boulder easily broke. However, behind the boulder, stood me and my own 15-layer Magnus Spell. My energy beam shot across the field, engulfing King Ethnar’s spell, breaking the ground under it as it sent waves of energy throughout the field. King Ethnar barely had time to dodge it, and my Magnus Spell hit a small hill maybe a kilometer away, and let’s just say it left a very visible crater. While I marveled at the destruction I caused, King Ethnar took the time to conjure 10 feet tall earth golems, and with various spells he was able to instruct them to attack me. I jumped from one golem to another, and with a spell reinforced punch or kick, they all cracked and broke apart. My great grandfather had this amused expression on his face as I destroyed his golems. “What are you smirking at?” “You’re relying again too much with your raw power. You’re barely strategizing.” “Huh?” Then I felt it, a tentacle made out of sand and mud wrapped itself around me. “See?” King Ethnar smirked at me. I groaned in frustration and then released a large amount of energy which led to the tentacle breaking apart. I then ran towards gramps but got distracted when balls of fire started raining on the field. “What the...” I said then I looked up to see uncle Selvenus casting multiple fire spells to make fire balls rain on the stage. I set a very pointed glare towards my uncle and I think he even flinched at that. My vision grew purple and I realized that maybe my eyes were shining bright purple with my irritation. “You can’t attack him Chris, he’s here to distract the both of us. Not just you. I’m your opponent,” King Ethnar said to me. I set my gaze towards the older king and with immense speed I was almost instantly in front of him. I hurled a powerful punch at him, but he caught my hand much to my surprise. It didn’t make any sense, he shouldn’t have been able to catch it, and even if he did, it should have been powerful enough to blow him several feet away. I then looked closely at his hand and realized, it’s reinforced with a glove made of stone. I then looked at his feet and saw that he has anchored himself on the ground. “See, I told you. You should be thinking more,” he sneered at me as he flung me several feet away. I spun through the air but was able to land on my feet. I grunted and huffed in frustration. I tried to will my chains to loosen, but they held tight against my skin. I groaned in frustration but if the chains wouldn’t help me, fine, I can do this on my own. I stomped both my feet on the ground and sent even larger fissures towards King Ethnar. He had this look on his face that made it seem that he was enjoying our battle. He certainly was smiling more often now. King Ethnar dodged the fissures then lightly kicked the ground to send several pieces of rock toward me. I defended with another wall of rock and cast several light based spells to create an illusion from which I could use to hide. My great grandfather looked confused, he was seeing my illusion of multiple Chris’ in front of him. He smirked then said, “You’re not hiding your energy signature though.” Then with a flick of his hand, the ground underneath me started to liquefy and I started to sink into it. I released a burst of energy to escape the quicksand and threw myself towards my opponent. We started exchanging blows and my great grandfather was laughing, “I can’t believe I’m having my best fights in a training session,” he said. I growled in frustration and I saw my bright purple eyes reflect from King Ethnar’s face. My great grandfather’s expression grew concerned, he said, “Calm down Chris.” The sky started to rumble and clouds started to darken above us. “Guess we should end this before you get out of control,” King Ethnar mused. He conjured two Magnus Spells, one on each hand and then launched them towards me. My vision started to go hazy but I remember flicking each Magnus Spell with my own spell reinforced hands and sent King Ethnar’s spells to the forest below. Let’s just say those attacks left large craters. King Ethnar’s expression grew worried as he saw the change in my demeanor. “Chris, you still there?” He asked. I then heard the voices again, as my vision went blurred. “Calm down!” A young boy’s voice said to me. “We don’t want you to lose control!” An older woman’s voice boomed in my head. Then I felt it, as if it were even possible, I felt the chains tighten even more around me. I groaned in frustration, but my vision returned to normal. It was almost too late for me to realize that King Ethnar had already launched multiple rocks toward me. Good thing I was fast enough to dodge them. “Good, you’re back,” he said to me as I landed on my feet. I smiled at him, “scared you huh?” “A little,” he confessed. “Let’s end this,” I replied. “Yeah,” And with that we went into a bitter exchange of punches and kicks, we both moved so fast that the air crackled and boomed as we exchanged blows. I lost my guard for a fraction of a second, and I was sent hurdling towards the ground. Last thing I remember is King Ethnar standing in front of me, and giving me a soft smirk, “guess I win again this time huh?” “This time, this time,” I whispered back as he helped me back to my feet.
  12. Chapter 105 - Masters of Earth 1 I decided to have a light snack with Matra and Uncle Selvenus after meeting with the PR team. My grandmother and uncle were both happy to be spending more time with me, as they’ve been away in the provinces recently. “I really hope to see more of both of you,” I said, just before taking a sip of tea. “Definitely Chris, we’ve been very busy the past few weeks,” Matra replied. “I agree, but with my older brother being caught up with the entire demon resurgence on Earth, I have to do more in helping rally and train the guards in the realm,” my uncle added. “Your Patri has been caught up in a lot of meetings with the Advisory Council and High Circle, I’ve taken some of his load, regarding affairs that concernlocal government,” my grandmother said. “How’s everything in the provinces?” I asked, my grandmother. I have to admit, despite briefly studying them in the crash course I had a few weeks ago, I barely have any first hand experience with the local government here in the realm. “All is well my dear boy. It’s just a matter of making sure the town, and village chiefs know they’re not forgotten by the crown.” “How about the governors? Shouldn’t that be their job?” I curiously asked. I’ve only met three governors so far. Prince Havar for the City of Katar, Prince Delic for the Northern Province, and Nelthana for the Western Province. “Indeed it is, but they do need our help from time to time. It is also in our interest to be visible to the people outside the capital unless we want the governors to be too influential and have ideas of their own,” Matra replied, with a slight edge in her voice as she seriously looked at me. “What do you mean?” I asked “My mother means, we can’t let the governors accumulate too much influence and power.” My uncle interjected. “Why?” “Remember how each tribe holds a majority in their province?” My uncle replied, in a tone that left me to draw my own conclusion. I thought about it for a moment and then understood what they meant, “you mean they could secede?” “That’s a remote possibility, but that’s something we don’t want to happen. Ever since the time of the first king, keeping the harmony between the 4 tribes has been the job of the crown. The issue was easier to ignore in the past, when our people lived in their own lands hundreds of kilometers apart and had greater autonomy. However, it has always been the vision, since the first king, King Maktar, to truly unite our kind, each king or queen before has taken a step towards complete unification. Our exile to the realm has certainly accelerated the process of integration though that does not mean we don’t face any friction,” Matra introspectively replied. “Woah, is there inter-tribal tension that I’m not aware of?” I asked, slightly worried that the government of the realm is more fragile than what I assumed it to be. “Not really, the tensions have certainly died down since the time of King Hadros, but it doesn’t mean the minor noble houses of each tribe aren’t jockeying for power,” My grandmother replied. “We would rather not risk rekindling any sense of rivalry between the tribes. It’s good that the people don’t feel any animosity against each other. The previous rulers have taken out the laws and institutions that gave any undue advantage to a certain tribe, but that doesn’t mean, there aren’t people out there that would want to use any lingering sense of tribalism to their advantage.” my uncle added. “Is that why you guys want me to push with this PR blitz?” My grandmother and uncle’s eyes lit as I mentioned that. My uncle snickered, “certainly does not hurt us, if we have a popular prince on our side,” “Chris, I don’t want you to feel manipulated, but as members of the royal family, the people look up to us as the source of their strength. A weakness on our part, will certainly weaken our government and that’s not something we can afford at this point,” my grandmother said. “King Maktar, united the four tribes through political skill and magical prowess. Do you think the four chieftains would have acceded to him if he were weak?” My uncle added. “The journey toward full unification of our people has been a long and slow one, but I’m sure we’ll get there someday,” my grandmother said to me as she gave me, a light smile. “Then, I think I have to do my part,” I replied with a meek smile which was warmly received by my Matra and uncle. —- I arrived in the all too familiar Hall of Maktar dressed in a comfortable red and gold robe. My teachers weren’t in yet, so I took my time looking around the expansive room. I noticed that aside from a desk and a board, there were also pits filled with sand, rock, soil, and mud in the far corner of the room. I also saw several large boulders each at least 6 or 7 feet across. A few minutes later, Masters Estano and Etgaros arrived, both were in green and yellow robes just like when I first met them in Patri’s office. Although both were 405 years old, they looked to be only in their mid thirties. Both stood at 6’2 and as brothers, they looked very similar with each other. As members of the Heradeya tribe, they had near eastern features, a mix of Turkish and Arabic. Though Etalos might have had features that borderline on the feminine, these two were all man, with their sharp and defined features. Master Estano might have been more muscular than Etgaros, but both of them were really hot. ‘Oh shoot, Chris! Stop lusting over your teachers!‘ I thought to myself. “Sorry to keep you waiting, your highness,” Estano said, as he approached me. “Don’t mention it. I got here a little early.” “It’s a pleasure to finally have the time with you. We’ve been pushing his majesty to have you train with us as soon as we saw you at your Ascension,” Etgaros chimed in, as he gave me a sexy smile. “You were both there?” “Hmm... Yes, we were, though I’m sure it would have been hard for you to spot us among the tens of thousands of attendees,” Etgaros replied, with a slightly teasing smile. “We’ve been told that we’ll set the Hall to a 1:10 ratio,” Estano remarked as his eyes wandered across the room. “Yes, if that’s okay with you,” I replied. “It would be an honor. Very few have been in this hall, and it’s only our third time in here,” Estano replied as he set his gaze on the walls of the Hall, as if to reminisce his own memories of the place. “Okay, let me set the dial then,” I replied as I approached the control mechanism and then slowly switched the dial to 1:10. They didn’t even flinch or wince with the ratio, only proving to me that they’re indeed powerful, as if them looking as guys in their thirties despite being 4 centuries old isn’t proof enough of their strength. The first two days in the hall were spent with a thorough discussion on Earth magic theory. To say that it is complicated would be an understatement. Despite being one of the first elements to be harnessed by the elves along with Water, Earth is actually harder to master; it was actually the last element to have been Mastered by the elves due to its complicated nature. Earth is composed of various minerals and substances, all with different properties that make it hard for a mage to wield it. Another thing that’s inconvenient for earth mages is, unless you’re skilled with transmuting elements, you’re stuck with whatever kind of rock or soil you have in the vicinity. The two masters took turns discussing at length various theories, I can see why they’re co-headmasters of the Earth High Academy the knowledge they’ve shared was certainly enlightening. I just hope I am absorbing enough knowledge for the actual thing. During breaks and downtime, we three spent time getting to know each other. Apparently both of them were personally mentored by King Ethnar, my great grandfather was already retired and saw potential in the brothers, from low level golds, both reached platinum level in less than 15 years, and that’s a feat in itself. Very few golds reach Platinum level, there are 500 golds for every platinum out there, and golds themselves are already very rare in the first place, being only 0.05% of the population. My great grandfather certainly whipped them into shape. During dinner on our second night, the brothers even gossiped about the other power players in the realm and they certainly did not hold back with their disdain for Prince Havar. “That power hungry prick!” Estano barked, at the mention of Prince Havar. “Brother...” Etgaros said as he tried to calm his brother down. “What? Don’t tell me you share his views?” “Of course not...” Etgaros replied as he warily eyed his brother and then me. “Oh, apologies Chris,” Estano said. I asked them to get rid of the honorifics on day one. “No need to apologize. I’ve certainly heard rumors about him,” I replied, with a sly grin. “Let’s just say, I’m glad Katar is not in the eastern province. That city is the problem of the Northerners and Westerners,” Estano harrumphed, referring to Katar being in the northwestern region of the realm, bordered by the Northern Province to the east and the western province to the west. “So, how’s the Eastern province?” I asked trying to diffuse Estano’s irritation with Prince Havar. “Oh, you’ve never been?” Etgaros asked, as he raised a single eyebrow in slight amusement. “I’m afraid not. So far I’ve only been to Ashtelon and the Capital.” I replied with slight embarrassment. I must admit that I’m fairly sheltered here in the realm. “We need to fix that. You should visit us in Bishgor soon. You’d love it there.” Estano said with excitement, referring to their hometown and capital of the eastern province. “I’ve read about Bishgor. I’ve heard stories about it too,” I replied with a smile. “Nothing beats being there. It’s a beautiful place. A city carved into Mt. Bishgor, its terraces a spectacle like no other,” Etgaros chimed in with an almost childlike excitement in his voice. “I’ll make sure to visit.” “You better.” —- On the third day we started to practice some low level Earth magic. For the first few hours, I found it very tough, and frustrating to say the least. At one point I doubted whether I had any aptitude for the element! I could barely move a handful of pebbles. *groan* “this is hard! Can’t I just use spells to move them around?” “That’s spell casting not earth magic, you should know better than interchanging the two,” Etgaros warned, with slight amusement at my frustration. “I can’t believe I let them talk me into this,” I complained. “Now now Chris, we’ve all been there and I assure you, you’re making progress.” Estano calmly said as he massaged my strained shoulders. “We’ve all been through this. It’s frustrating for any new earth mage out there. Progress with this element is painstakingly slow,” Etgaros added as he played swirled around several pieces of rock with ease as if to mock me. “I have so much respect for what King Ethnar was doing when we sparred.” “I’ve heard of that battle.” Etgaros noted. “You have?” I asked, losing my concentration and the small amount of earth I have been straining to manipulate in the air fell on the floor. Estano and Etgaros both chuckled, “of course we have, if you’re well connected, you hear whispers and stories about this prince,” Etgaros teased. *groan* “I thought Patri has been trying to keep my skills a secret.” “Oh, the royal family has certainly taken measures on that regard, but as students of your great grandfather, we might have been forewarned about your skills,” Estano teased. “I guess I’m being a disappointment now huh? I can barely lift a rock!” I exclaimed in frustration. I was getting testy, I was barely making any progress and my self esteem was taking a serious battering with every failure I stumbled over. “There there, don’t worry about it, we’ve taught countless earth mages before you, this is progress, trust us.” Estano soothingly replied. —- The Fourth day was spent with both masters taking turns coaching me in proper earth manipulation, a few hours into it, I’ve finally been able to control a significant amount of rock. Halfway through the day, something clicked in me and then it just started becoming easier, it dawned on me that my initial difficulties were due to me not adjusting my energy levels according to the composition of the rocks and soil I’ve been handling. Estano and Etgaros were pleasantly surprised to see a substantial improvement in my Earth magic. I wasn’t spectacular but at least I was able to move on to the next plateau in my Earth studies. The hardest rocks to manipulate, are the ones that are made of various types of minerals. Composite rocks certainly were complicated, the different minerals required differing levels of energy to control, too little, and then your Earth Spell will fail, too much and then it will also fail, trying to balance the right amount of energy without losing concentration was the key! On the fifth day, I tried something different. Instead of following the modern elvish theories, I tried sneaking some Tashik based magic into my earth spells, during the first few tries, it seemed that I was regressing due to the new spells appearing to be weaker, but a few hours later, I appeared to have the hang of it. Now, I could even break the boulders from a few feet away! “Chris, this is unbelievable, what you’ve achieved is something that would take years if not decades for other earth mages to accomplish,” Etgaros said over dinner. “You’re just saying that,” I said trying to hide my blush. I can’t help it, I’m not good receiving compliments, though they certainly mean something, especially coming from these two! “Goodness, if you can do this in 5 days, I can only imagine how good you’ll be in a few weeks,” Estano said, as he lightly chuckled with his brother, “one of these days, you’ve gotta train with the neophytes at the Kashi, training with you will certainly be a morale booster and serve as an inspiration to them.” “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” I shyly asked. “We’re the headmasters, of course it is,” Etgaros said, winking at me. —- The remaining days in the Hall of Maktar went by like a breeze. Not only did I substantially improve my Earth magic but I gained new friends in Estano and Etgaros. On our last day of training, we even moved towards light sparring. My Earth magic skills were still far from that of Estano and Etgaros, but both Masters we’re confident that I was on my way to becoming a very skilled Earth Mage. “Chris, teaching you has been a pleasure.” Etgaros said as he stared into my eyes while gripping both my shoulders. “My brother is right, we have never taught someone as skilled as you. In the past 10 days, you’ve progressed to a level that would have taken decades for others. I certainly see why the palace is careful with letting any information on you slip prematurely to the public,” Estano added. “Thanks, Estano and Etgaros. I wouldn’t have made it without your help,” I said smiling at them. I then hugged them one after another just before we exited the Hall. “I’ll see you both soon,” I said to them as I waved goodbye and headed towards the residential palace. “Don’t forget, you promised to drop by Bishgor!” Etgaros shouted from the distance as he and his brother waved farewell. “Of course, I will!” I enthusiastically replied. —- I was in my bed in the royal palace when I heard a knock. “Come in,” “Chris, you doing okay?” Etalos asked as he walked in. “Just tired, but I’m doing well,” I replied. “Okay, I thought I should tell you, while you were gone several meeting requests have been made to your office.” I sat back against the headboard and asked, “what sort of meetings?” “Well, first, Treasury Minister Neyana has requested that you meet her, along with several individuals from the business sector. Second, Prince Havar made another request to meet you, then another from the Council of Governors as well.” “Wasn’t I only gone for a day or did the Hall of Maktar go all wonky?” “Just a day,” Etalos replied with a teasing grin. “Any clue what they want to talk to me about?” “Well, Minister Neyana has been approached by several investors to broach the topic of expanding our business interests on Earth.” “Am sorry what?” I asked slightly confused. “Not sure what the exact details are. From what I gather it appears several wealthy and prominent industrialists have seen your appointment as Ambassador to Earth, as a sign the crown is willing to expand the elvish foothold on Earth.” “Why don’t they talk to the King about this?” “They did, and King ZoHal said they should discuss this with the ambassador.” *groan* “This is good Chris, it means your Patri trusts you.” Etalos said trying to give me the comfort and confidence I needed. “I’m too young for this. I don’t have a clue about this!” I said almost in near panic. “Calm down. That’s why Minister Neyana will be there, she should have some insights about this matter.” “Fine, but don’t schedule it this weekend. Maybe sometime next week.” “Okay.” “What about Prince Havar?” “Sorry, his office didn’t give us more details about his intentions.” “Okay, I’ll think about it. What of the Council of Governors?” “Oh, it appears with you slowly gaining influence at court, it appears the governors are already jockeying to be in your good graces,” Etalos said with a slight smirk. “Oh fuck, I hate politics,” I groaned in frustration. “Can’t they go curry favors with my uncles instead?” I added. “It doesn’t hurt them to have multiple supporters so close to the King.” “Fuck me...” I complained. “I’d rather you fuck me,” I heard Etalos whisper. “What was that?” I asked. “Nothing,” replied a blushing Etalos. —- We returned to Greensburg at 6 am of Saturday. “One of these days, I’m seriously going to have a bad case of jet lag,” I said as I went to the kitchen to grab a light snack before hopefully being able to take a nap before Leo’s birthday party. “Ohh, someone’s rather grumpy,” dad said walking in on me. “Hi dad, mornin’” “Mornin’ son. How was the realm?” “Fine, spent 10 days in the Hall of Maktar. I’m pretty sure I’m aging faster than I’m supposed to,” I retorted. Dad chuckled, “Didn’t you just stop aging?” “Uhhh... that’s not what I meant,” “Hmph, just take it easy son. I know it can be stressful but you’re doing a lot of good for the people around you.” Dad said with an encouraging tone. “I hope I’m doing enough,” “You’re more than enough son. More than enough...” dad replied rather introspectively. “Are you gonna get sappy all over me dad?” I teased. “Way to go, to break the mood,” dad teased back. “I love you dad.” “Love you to son.” —- I was joined by Victor and Kalron for the lunchtime birthday party at Leo’s house. As much as we wanted to have the rest of the crew join us in his celebration, that might have raised some questions from the other visitors, so we thought it was best to allow only the young and young looking ones for his party but worry not, coz we’re having a dinner party for Leo as well back at my place where the rest can celebrate my best friend’s birthday. Several of my soccer team mates were in attendance, and it was nice to see them again. I exchanged several pleasantries with Enrique, Kyle, and Keith. Leo also invited some of his classmates from his school. Mrs. Nicholson cooked a fabulous feast for Leo and the atmosphere was joyous, and filled with energy as we all wished Leo a happy birthday. The elvish cookies that Etalos and Kalron baked and brought to the party were a complete hit. As soon as Mrs. Nicholson learned that my “cousin,” Etalos had a hand in baking them, she couldn’t help but try to get the recipe from him. Good luck to Etalos explaining to Leo’s mom that several ingredients used can only be found in the realm, hehe. “Thanks for coming guys,” Leo said as he pulled me in for a hug while Victor and Etalos stood beside me. “We wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I replied. “I wish August was here.” “Don’t worry about it, he’s on his way. I’m sure he’s excited to see you.” “Well, at least he didn’t forget that it was my birthday.” Leo replied, with a mock pout. I exchanged a knowing glance with Victor and only smiled in response. “Happy 18th, Leo. Here’s my gift to you.” Victor said, as he handed Leo a small box wrapped in red. “What’s this?” “It’s for you to find out later,” Victor replied, with a wink. “Ohh thanks Victor,” Leo replied happily. “Here’s mine,” I said, as I handed him a slightly larger box wrapped in blue. “Oh, you didn’t have to Chris,” Leo retorted, as he took hold of my gift. “Don’t mention it buddy,” I said, patting him on the back. “Here’s mine,” Etalos said, just above a whisper as he handed Leo a paper bag. “Oh... Eta... Ethan,” Leo corrected himself, in case someone heard him. “You didn’t have to!” “Well, that’s not much really, it’s just something I found in the art district you know.” “But Ethan, the art district is pretty posh, I’ve been there too you know,” Leo said, with an amused tone as he received the paper bag. “Don’t worry about it, I’m well paid by this certain Prince,” Etalos snickered. Leo giggled in response, “I bet you are.” Leo handed his gifts to his dad for safekeeping, my best friend then took hold of my hand and said, “Come on, let’s eat some more,” “Eat again?” I incredulously asked. “Don’t tell me you’re refusing food Chris Rogers?” “Of course not!” While Leo was chatting with some of his high school friends, I couldn’t help but notice some girls trying to glance at my direction. “Seems like the girls like you,” Victor whispered to me. “Seriously?” I muttered in response. “Go on, why don’t you check what they’re thinking of.” “Victor... that’s rude.” “Come one, live a little,” he teased. “Fine...” I reached out my thoughts to the three ladies and bam! The thoughts They had of me were certainly not PG! “Eww Victor, how could they think that.” I muttered with a slight shiver spreading through my body. Okay, there’s no denying, I’m definitely gay. “I think it’s cute,” Victor stifled a laugh. I reached out to Victor with my mind and spoke mind to mind with him, “There’s nothing cute about what they wanted to do with me!” “Aww, babe, you’re so easy to tease.” “Ugh, Victor, I need something to drink to erase those images from my brain,” I replied. “I have a few ideas of things you can drink,” Victor replied with a slightly raised eyebrow. I caught on to what Victor was thinking, and I replied. “Now we’re talking.” Hehe, sorry ladies. I definitely don’t swing your way. —- The party at Leo’s house ended at around 4pm, and we had several hours to spare before the party at my house. “Oh, Chris, you really didn’t have to host another party for Leo here,” Mrs. Nicholson said with her classic charming and sweet demeanor. “It’s nothing big really, I just wanted another excuse to spend time with my best friend over here,” I replied with a grin as I pulled Leo into a sideways hug. “You’re spoiling our son,” Mr Nicholson added in amusement. “Nah, I’m sure that’s August’s job,” I teased as I gently elbowed Leo. Leo’s parents laughed much to my best friend’s embarrassment. Gosh, Leo’s cute when he’s blushing. Kind of hot too. Oh oh, I can’t seriously lust after Leo, I mean, he’s Leo for god’s sake! Gosh okay, distract thyself. Think of happy thoughts Chris. Happy thoughts happy thoughts. We were in Leo’s room while he opened our gifts. “Oh Victor! This is beautiful!” Leo said with a mix of amazement and excitement as he put on a brown leather strapped, and silver plated watch. It had a minimalist design and was something I thought matched Leo’s usual outfits. “I hope you like it,” Victor replied. Leo was checking out the watch then he yelped, “Dude! This is a Patek, this is expensive!” “Oh, come on Leo, it’s really nothing,” Victor said as he helped Leo put on his new watch. “Thanks Victor.” “Now open mine,” Etalos cheered from the side. Inside the green paper bag were three scarves. The first one was red with silver trimmings, the second was green with yellow and white accents, and the third one was white with gold margins. “Etalos, these are exquisite and wow... the designs are just beautifully. It feels good too!” “Well, I didn’t realize that winters could get so bad here, so I thought you could use these,” Etalos replied with his usual cute smile. “Thanks, Etalos!” Leo said as he hugged the cute elf. “Now, let’s see what my best friend got me.” Leo said with a teasing grin. For the longest time we’ve only been giving each other pranks as gifts during our birthdays. Last year he gave me a porn magazine, a gay one! While on the other hand, I gave him a vibrator! He almost went nuts when his mom accidentally found it, good thing Mrs. Nicholson thought it was a head massager. “I hope you like this.” I said. Leo unwrapped the box I had for him, after a few seconds, he pulled out a light blue sweater with silver accents and designs. Elvish scripts were also embroidered into the cuffs of the fine sweater. “Damn Chris, this is so nice.” “Go on try it on,” I said with an encouraging tone. Leo didn’t think twice about it and put on the sweater. A moment after the fabric settled into his frame, my best friend added, “wow, I can feel energy flowing into me, it’s slightly warm and tingly,” “It’s made of the finest fabrics in the realm, and I asked the imperial tailor to specifically make it for you.” “Thanks a lot Chris.” Leo replied as he felt the fabric all over his body. I didn’t tell my best friend that I enchanted the sweater with several spells that will keep him strong and healthy. Let’s just think of it as an added bonus. —- We went to my house at around 7pm for Leo’s second party of the day. In attendance were Dad, Yal, Kalron, Nomir, August, the twins, Arthur and Arnold. Henry, Mark, and Troy were also present but arrived a bit late. “Wow guys, you’re here!” Leo said in a surprised and excited tone as he saw the twins. “Like we’d ever miss you turning 18,” Arthur said with a grin. “I missed the two of you!” Leo said as he pulled in August’s younger pack mates for hugs. “Cage and Fred are sorry they couldn’t come, they said they’ll make up for it. Sergei and Gerard are excited to meet you too,” Arnold said. “Well, I look forward to meeting them,” Leo replied. “Come on guys, the food is ready!” Yal chimed in. We all went to the dining area and my friends were able to prepare the best elvish dishes available. Well, they kind of cheated by using the portal at home to ferry food from the palace to the house. At some point Arnold and Arthur took their time to get to know the other elves in the house. It’s so easy to forget, they haven’t been around elves yet, aside from myself. As the party went on, I saw August pull Leo to the side. The muscle bound werewolf had this serious look on his face as he said something to Leo. My best friend stood shocked for a moment, wide eyed, then his expression changed to that of complete happiness. He pulled August in for a very very sensual kiss, a few seconds later they pulled apart and then I heard Leo reply, “I’m so fucking glad you’re moving here! Best gift ever!” —- The party at my house was a resounding success and the festivities ended at around 1am. August, Arnold and Arthur we’re staying the night at home much to Leo’s joy. Let’s just leave it at Leo “sleeping over” at my place but we all know he spent the night in August’s room. After a short nap, I went to the realm to check out the palace library and maybe visit my office as well. However, a few minutes after arriving, I received a messaged on my phone from Patri. “Come to my office as soon as you see this.” Well that was rather ominous. I put the palm of my hand on the scanner outside Patri’s office, it went green and I made my way inside. “Chris, good that you’re here,” Patri said smiling at me from his desk. “Am I in trouble?” I curiously asked. “No, why would you say that?” “Coz of your text.” “Oh, that...” Patri chuckled a bit. “What’s it all about?” “My father wants you to visit him in Ashtelon. He thinks it’s time for you to learn Earth Magic from him,” Patri said with a teasing grin. “Am sorry what?” My voice Slightly quivered at that. “How’d you want to get there? By train or car?” “Now?” “Why delay the inevitable?” “This is all just so sudden. That’s all.” “Estano and Etgaros could not stop praising you, so father wanted to polish you up as soon as possible. We also thought if you were given advanced warning, you would do your best to delay this, we all know he intimidates you.” *groan* “Fine, Hmm... I wanna see more of the countryside, I wanna travel by car.” “Okay, want Nomir to drive you, or we can have someone else drive from the palace guards.” “Nomir’s sleeping at home, the guards will do just fine.” “Okay, it’s settled then. Also, Selvenus will join you, he wants to train with your great grandfather and although I want to be there myself, I have some matters to tend to here.” “It’s okay Patri.” “You’ll do great Chris!” Patri said patting my back.
  13. Etalos and Nomir thoroughly enjoyed the food at the diner. Sally, the manager couldn’t help but fuss over Etalos and I can’t blame the lady, Etalos is too darn adorable, especially when he gets shy. Though we had to introduce Etalos as Ethan and Nomir as Nero, elvish names would definitely have raised eyebrows. “Darn, this food is good!” Etalos said as he munched over a breakfast special of eggs, waffles, and bacon. “Haven’t you eaten a waffle before?” “I have, but this is better than what I’ve tried when I last visited earth,” Etalos replied. “You guys better get used to it then.” “I can definitely get used to this,” Nomir replied as Etalos enthusiastically nodded in agreement. “So, how’s Kalron doing?” I asked. “Busy as ever, the surveillance effort is in overdrive,” Nomir replied after he took a healthy bite of pancakes. “I’m worried. Should I build a shield around Greensburg?” “You can do that?” Victor asked in near surprise. “Greensburg is not that big, it’s just a few miles across, I think I can do it.” “Wouldn’t it drain you?” Etalos asked with a concerned look on his face. Though they know I’m strong but maybe this is a project that’s beyond me. “I agree with Etalos. Chris, a barrier that large would require an enormous amount of energy,” Nomir added. “Hmm, I’ll think about. I promise to not push myself too hard.” “Can’t your Patri send some agents to build the shield instead?” Victor asked. “Pssh, Victor... elves maybe good with magic but a barrier several kilometers across would take weeks if not months if it were up to golds. I doubt the realm can spare any more platinums right now,” Nomir replied. “Ohhh...” Victor replied as it dawned on him, how much energy I was thinking of spending to build a barrier around the town. “Changing subjects, how are you guys settling in so far?” I asked my two elvish companions. “It’s great Chris!” Etalos replied. “There’s no greater honor than serving at your side, your highness,” Nomir added. “Nomir, ugh, can you be more casual? You were doing so good earlier,” I almost snarked back. “Oops, sorry, uhm, doing great here Chris! It’s been amazing,” Nomir said with a bright smile. Oh, my isn’t my bodyguard hot? I felt a nudge in my head and I let Victor in. “You’re totally drooling over you bodyguard,” he mentally said to me. “Am not!” I vehemently denied! “Uh huh,” Victor replied with a tone that showed amusement with how easy it is to get me hot and bothered but I can’t help it Nomir is sexy! Nomir and Etalos were exchanging weird looks with each other while they watched me and Victor just staring into each other with the occasional change in facial expression. “What’s wrong? Do I have sauce on my face?” I asked. “No, for a few seconds the two of you were just looking at each other, it seemed that you were both speaking mind to mind,” Etalos replied. “Oh yeah, we were.” I smiled in reply. Nomir choked on his orange juice while Etalos’ mouth widened in awe. “Why what’s wrong?” I asked. “You were talking mind to mind?” Etalos clarified. “Yeah, Victor is good with mind reading and I’m good with it too, so speaking mind to mind is something we can do, as long as the other doesn’t shield too tight. I can even do it to you and Nomir but I’m not sure if you will be able to reply since you’re not really into this kind of stuff,” “Woah,” Etalos replied in awe. —- The rest of the morning was spent with me reviewing for my matriculation exam. I’m actually looking forward to getting this over with. Ever since my Ascension my plans on college have been put into question, do I continue with Stoker U or maybe concentrate on elvish studies instead? That’s certainly something dad and I have been talking over the past few days. Oh well, we’ve got several more months to think about it anyway. Kalron knocked just as I finished studying. “Come in” “Chris?” “Yes, what is it Kalron?” “There’s been a development,” Kalron said with a slightly worried expression. “Oh, this doesn’t sound good. What’s the matter?” “I think we should discuss this matter with the others present.” “Of course, so we call for a meeting in the realm then?” “That would be ideal. I think Victor should be present as well.” “Oh, I see.” I pulled out my phone and called Etalos. “Etalos, I know we’re both in the same house but this is urgent. I need you to go to the realm and set a meeting with Patri, My uncles, Yal, and Jetan. Tell them Kalron has an important update. Let me know as soon as everyone confirms a schedule, I know it’s late back in the realm but make this happen as soon as possible please.” “Okay sure Chris.” Etalos replied. I then looked at Kalron again and asked, “I’m assuming vampires are involved since you want Victor present?” Kalron lightly nodded and then spoke “yes, but it’s kind of complicated and the information we’ve gathered is new but it seems too important to ignore.” “I see.” I then called Victor, “Hey...” “Hey babe, what’s up?” “I need you ...” “ I know you do” “Uhm... not that kind of call Victor. Something important came up. Kalron found something and your Vampire insights might be of help.” “Ohh...” “We need to get to the realm soon. Kalron hasn’t said much to me yet but this seems important.” “I’m on my way.” Etalos returned from the realm 15 minutes later and informed us everyone would be at the palace in 30 minutes. Victor joined us not more than 5 minutes later. “So, what’s this all about?” Victor asked as he switched his attention between Kalron and me. “Vampire syndicates sir...“Kalron replied as his voice trailed off. “Syndicates? Which one?” “Multiple but for now we’ve identified 3. The Orion Group, Alcatraz, and the Red Pyramid” “Are you sure about this Kalron?” Victor replied with a slightly worried tone, and an expression that told me his mind was working full speed, organizing the information he had on the said groups. “Enlighten the newbie please,” I interjected. “Sorry Chris. Uhm, these three are some of the most influential vampire syndicates out there. The VHC has been doing its best to quell them with some success, but their leaders are very good at hiding.” “Okay... ugh this doesn’t sound good. Anyway, let’s go to the palace now.” —- Patri, Uncle Rehanmir, and Yal were both already present in Patri’s study when the three of us arrived. Uncle Selvenus and Jetan joined us shortly after. “Okay, now that we’re all here, what’s this about Kalron?” Yal asked. “Our agents were able to track several of the demons that escaped the various compounds that we’ve attacked.” “What do the syndicates have to do with this?” Victor asked. “It appears that the demons have already started to grow weak with Yonthar’s absence. We all know that without their general, they lose a substantial amount of their strength,” Kalron continued. “So...?” Yal asked. “It appears that the demon presence, has not exactly gone unnoticed and the syndicates have taken interest. It appears they’ve taken advantage of the weakness of Yonthar’s remaining demons and have abducted them.” “They what?!” I exclaimed in shock. “Well these syndicates are well resourced and powerful. Not as influential as they were in the 80s and 90s but they have some strong vampires on their side, even some rogue werewolves and humans too,” Victor added. “What do they plan to do with the demons? They don’t know what they’re dealing with!” Patri said in clear frustration. “What else did you find Kalron?” Uncle Selvenus asked. “It appears that a human group is backing one of the syndicates as well. We’re not yet sure which one and what their end goal is but it seems that the Orion Group is in cahoots with a very influential human group.” “Fuuuuck...” I groaned with both my hands on my head as I thought in frustration how complicated things have become. “Any news on another general, or that of the Blood Army?” Jetan asked. “None so far,” Kalron tersely replied. “Seems like we’ve found ourselves battling multiple fronts. Victor, we’ll need your help with the VHC on this.” Patri said. “Of course, your majesty.” “Though werewolves aren’t as involved in this matter, I doubt the WCC will complain if they help us regarding this as well, especially since demons are still involved,” Patri added. “I’ll make sure to have August on board, he should get through to both Juan and Luigi,” I replied. “Kalron, do you need more resources for surveillance?” Yal asked. “A few more agents and more funding will be of great help.” “Consider it done,” Patri said. “Thank you,” Kalron replied with a slight bow. “What else do we know of these syndicates?” Uncle Rehanmir asked. “All three syndicates emerged in the 1920s and reached peak influence in the 80s and 90s until the VHC cracked down on them. Their operations have put the treaty negotiations with the humans at risk. All three are involved in drug and human trafficking, as well as illegal arms trade to name a few,” Victor paused to collect his thoughts and then continued, “As I’ve said before, these syndicates aren’t as powerful as before, we’ve had several successes in diminishing them but it doesn’t mean they aren’t a threat, these syndicates are second to the Blood Army in terms of the threat they pose to the Vampire community.” “Kalron, what information do we have about these syndicates?” I asked. “We have several documents and data on them but I’m sure the VHC has more in this regard, we haven’t been monitoring them as much as we have the other possible threats,” Kalron replied while taking a measured glance at Victor and the rest of us as if to be careful to not let on with Victor, that the VHC has been one of the groups the elves have been intensively monitoring the past few decades. “Okay, I think we should work on intelligence gathering with the vampires,” Yal suggested. “I agree. I’m sure Reza will too.” Victor replied. “Makes me wonder what they want to do with these demons. This could go horribly wrong for the syndicates. If you ask me, they could all be Anami in a week or two,” Jetan said, as he steepled his hands. “I’m not sure which one, if either scenario is preferable. The vampires having their way with the demons or that this thing backfired and the demons come out on top,” Patri retorted with an equally pensive expression on his face. We then spent another hour discussing the finer details, of how we wished to move forward. We also discussed several security measures to be implemented in Greensburg, Portal facilities, the New York training facility, and other crucial Vampire establishments across the country. —- “Can’t we just face one enemy at a time?” I complained as we got back to the house. “Sorry Chris, it doesn’t work that way.” Victor said as he grabbed my waist and pulled me in a sideways hug. “Victor... we don’t know how many generals are out there, we don’t know if all 8 remain, and there’s the matter with the Blood Army... and then...” I said with a slightly panicked tone but Victor stopped my train of thought with a gentle kiss. “Chris, you’re panicking. Get a hold of yourself! I know it can be overwhelming but we will get through this! Trust me!” Victor said, with a confident and reassuring tone. I leaned my forehead towards Victor’s and our eyes met as we rested on each other’s heads. “You promise?” I whispered. “Yes. Promise.” Victor replied with his signature smile. “Okay, let’s get to work then.” I grinned back at him. —- That evening, Victor went back to his place to work on the new information we’ve gathered. He was coordinating with the VHC on various response measures their community should take with this new threat. I spent my night in the Tower with my new book in tow. Much to my frustration, I still couldn’t read it so I went around the tower looking for books or scrolls that might help me learn how to read it! After more than an hour of scouring multiple shelves, I felt it! A tingle, faint but undeniable, present. I followed the tingling sensation and found myself drawn to a nearly disintegrated scroll. I carefully unrolled the scroll and to my surprise whatever was written inside on it was quite legible but just like the new book I found, I couldn’t damn read it! I groan in frustration but decided to have a go at it and channeled my energy intro he scroll. The paper started to feel warm and then I felt a light electric current pass from the scroll into my body. I started to faintly glow and then the scroll started to crumble in my hands. “No no no!” I screamed in panic, worried that whatever information it contained was crucial and will be forever lost to oblivion. “Such a worrier,” I faintly heard. It was a young boy’s voice. “Who’s out there?” I asked as I turned around trying to catch a glimpse of whoever was talking to me. “The most unassuming one we’ve encountered,” said an older female’s voice. “I think I’m going crazy,” I muttered to myself. “He’ll figure it out soon enough,” teased a younger girl. “Who the fuck is out there?!” I shouted with a burst of energy escaping me. Bright light engulfed the room and the Tower’s walls shook with the pressure. “Quiet but such a temper,” added an older male voice. I calmed myself down and collected my thoughts. I don’t like how this is going. I felt my chains move inside my body, a gentle nudge from underneath my skin and I started to feel warmer. Streaks of bright white and gold lit my skin as I felt energy swelling within me. The chains rustled and I started to writhe in discomfort. I fell to the floor and squirmed as I was consumed by an unfamiliar feeling of immense power. My thoughts were hazy and I had this nagging feeling that I somehow forgot something as I returned to consciousness. I found myself on top of my bed with a few minutes to spare before sunrise. I rubbed my head as I rose and sat with my back against the headboard. “What the hell happened?” I quietly asked myself. I looked at left beside table and found the large book from the Tower. Okay, I remember being in the tower then nothing. I think I’m too young for memory loss. After breakfast, Yal and I joined Kalron in his office. “Any updates?” Yal asked. “Yes, but not much, we’re trying to be as careful as possible.” “Okay, what can you tell us?” I asked. “We’ve confirmed that the Orion Group is in possession of 3 demons, Alcatraz has 2, and Red Pyramid has 2 they’re keeping the demons separate from each other in different facilities across the country.” “What else?” “We’ve traced the human benefactor of the Orion Group. It appears that Citadel Corp is behind their recent spike in activities.” “Citadel? You mean the arms manufacturer?” I asked. “Yes, but Citadel is not just an arms manufacturer, they’re into smaller Pharmaceutical operations as well, they’re into hormone and stem cell research.” “That doesn’t sound like a good combination with vampire and demons,” I replied. “It clearly isn’t. They could be using vampires and demons to advance their research, though this is certainly not the first time research like this has been attempted,” Yal replied, with a hint of worry in his voice. “What do we do now?” I asked. “We’re trying to hack into Citadel’s database but it’s tough to get through, our agents are having a hard time, but I’m confident we’ll get some results by the end of the day.” “Thanks, Kalron,” I said, trying to smile a bit to show appreciation for Kalron’s work. “The pleasure is mine sir,” he smiled back at me. —- Early afternoon, Etalos joined me in my room to give me an update. “Chris, your grandfather wants to accelerate your training.” “What do you mean?” “Your elemental training. You’ve been stuck with two elements. Your grandfather has scheduled for you to train with Masters Estano and Etgaros to train Earth Magic.” “Ohh...” I replied as I remembered briefly meeting those two in Patri’s office. Estano and Etgaros as I remember are fraternal twins and are the co-headmasters of the Earth Kashi or High Academy. “You start your training with them in the Hall of Maktar tomorrow,” Etalos announced. “Hall of Maktar? Are you serious?” “Very and so is your Patri. He was very adamant about maybe setting the Hall in a 1:10 ratio, both Masters Estano and Etgaros are Platinums and can certainly take the discomfort of that power setting,” “Do I even have a choice?” “No, you don’t” Etalos smiled as he put both of his hands on his waist. “Fine... fine, there’s no escaping this anyway.” “You’ll do great Chris. I’m sure of it.” “I hope so,” I retorted. I wasn’t really looking forward to spending 10 days in the Hall of Maktar but I guess we couldn’t help but rush things especially with how things are. I once asked Patri why we couldn’t use the Hall of Maktar more often, but he noted that constant use of it will drain the power of the stones that allow the time dilation to take place, and those stones are very rare, so we can’t abuse its use. Every boot up and cooling down degrades the stones so we should make the most out of every use, I guess that’s why Patri didn’t complain when I extended my stay inside the Hall the first time I used it since it drained the stones just as much as if someone activated the room for a 1:3 cycle or something like that. —- For some semblance of normalcy, Victor and I went to Martin’s cafe for an afternoon date. “So, how’s everything at your end?” I asked Victor as I took a second bite out of my chocolate cake. “It’s getting hectic, I think the council’s in overdrive, Reza and Victoria have mobilized the entire council to full alert. “Well, that’s comforting,” I sarcastically said. Victor snickered a bit, then replied, “Konrad is spear heading the process of training more Stratos apprentices to full Stratos membership, the help your agents provide has certainly accelerated the process.” “You know, we’re glad to help. Any updates from August?” “Well, he’s coping a bit better since he has recalled Gerard and Sergei back to their compound in Baltimore. Those two are very reliable and seem to be assisting Cage well with the preparations.” “Hmm... I haven’t met those two yet,” I noted. “Yeah, those two are loners and are quite different from Cage, Fred, Arthur and Arnold, but believe me, they’re loyal to August like no other and are very strong.” “Well... I’m glad August is getting the help he needs.” “A little bird has told me our favorite alpha plans to move here,” Victor said with a teasing smile. “No way!” I exclaimed with surprise and happiness. I then looked around and put my hands on my mouth as my sudden outburst caught the attention of several customers. “Yeah,” Victor continued to smile. “Does Leo know?” “Of course not. I bet August will tell him this Saturday.” “Damn, that’s gotta be the best birthday gift Leo will have.” “August has already purchased a 50 acre (20 hectares) plot of land in the outskirts of town. “That’s awesome but are the rest of his pack mates on board?” I asked in wonder and with slight concern. “Of course, they are. August is the alpha, and they love Leo to bits, I’m sure they’re happy to move closer to Leo.” “I’m glad to have those guys closer here as well.” “Hmm... seems like Greensburg is slowly becoming a supernatural power center.” “What do you mean?” “Uhm... I mean where else would you find a VHC Councilor, WCC Councilor, and uhm, am Elven prince live in such close proximity together?” “Ohh...“ my voice trailed with the realization of how we’re slowly changing this sleepy town of ours. “August should start the move soon, I heard he’s already employed a werewolf construction firm to build a secure compound in his new property. I’m sure it’s going to be more secure than the one he has in Baltimore.” “Well, speaking of security, I plan on placing a barrier around your compound as well.” I stated matter of factly.” “Huh?” “You already know, I have barriers around mine and Leo’s house and I’m not taking any chances with yours too. If you don’t want one for yourself then do it for Henry, Mark, and Troy.” “Fine, you win. Can’t argue with you on that one.” “Good! Coz I was planning on doing it anyway whether you agreed or not.” I said with a mock scowl on my face. “Such a bossy prince,” Victor teased. “Am not,” I said crossing my arms. “Whatever you say,” Victor smirked back at me as he took a bite out of his delicious apple pie. “Changing topics, you received the file I sent you earlier?” I asked. “Yes.” Victor tersely replied with a serious look. “What do you think?” “Tsk, Citadel’s a very secretive organization. We know they’ve dabbled in things that might push the limits of legality but working with vampire syndicates and abducting demons, well, that’s just a whole new level.” I reached out with my mind and made sure no one was eavesdropping on us. Victor smirked as he noticed me use my mind magic, “don’t worry about it, I’ve already made sure they’re all distracted,” “What did you do?” “Planted the feeling in their minds that we weren’t interesting,” “Sneaky.” “As if you weren’t thinking of wiping their memories if you discovered they were listening in,” Victor accused. “I was totally not!” “Uh Huh,” Victor replied with a teasing smile and slightly raised eyebrow. “Whatever, what else do we know about this Citadel Corp?” “I’ve already asked District 14 Governor, Jordan Owens to help us since the headquarters of Citadel is in Houston.” “Anything we can do to help?” “I’m sure Kalron and Yal are already on it.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I replied too quickly and too defensively for my liking. “Whatever you say, your highness.” Victor snickered again. “I’m so going to make you pay.” I replied with mock indignation. “Chris, calm down. I know Yal and Kalron are very good with intelligence gathering so whatever they’re doing, I’m all for it. Our teams have started to infiltrate the mainframe of Citadel but it seems another group has beat us to it, who else do you think is capable of doing that?” “Uhm, the CIA? NSI?” I squeaked. “Riiight...” “Hmph,” — We dropped by Victor’s place before going home. I’ve missed Henry and Mark and Troy and also, I had to make that barrier around their place. It wouldn’t affect any of Victor’s agents or anyone with non-malevolent intention so it wouldn’t affect the operations of Victor and Henry. Dinner with Dad, Etalos, Nomir, and Kalron was rather subdued as everyone had busy days. We talked about the recent developments, and my upcoming training session with Estano and Etgaros. “That’s good son, I’m sure you’ll soon get the hang of it. I mean Earth magic should be good for you right?” Dad said. “I don’t know dad, It’s a whole new element.” “Chris, it’s indeed different from Fire and Water. But you’ve already mastered two opposing elements, and water and fire are to some extent complimentary to Earth, so despite the initial difficulties, I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it.” Nomir chimed in. “Was learning Earth magic difficult for you?” I asked. “It was, but then again, so is learning any type of magic at all. I’m sure Etalos found Air difficult and so did Kalron with Water in the beginning too.” Nomir replied. “Fair point,” I tersely replied. “Chris, Masters Estano and Etgaros are renowned all over the realm. There’s nothing to worry about. They’re the second best Earth Mages there are” Kalron added. “Who’s the first?” “King Ethnar duh.” Kalron replied. “Ohh...” “Unless you want to immediately train with your great grandfather then I suggest you take it with the headmasters first.” I shuddered at the thought of being whipped into shape by King Ethnar. I look forward to learning from him, but I need to learn the basics first! I don’t intend on embarrassing myself in front of my great grandfather. I had to be at least half decent with my Earth magic skill with King Ethnar, I do not intend to be defeated by him again. —- After dinner, I went to the realm with Etalos. For the first time I decided to drop by my office in the administrative section of the palace complex. The two guards outside my office doors were visibly surprised to see me. “Good morning,” I said to them with a smile. “Your Highness,” they replied, almost in a stammer as they lightly bowed. “Take it easy, I’m just here for a visit,” I chuckled at their nervousness. I mean why be nervous around me right? “Come on in,” Etalos said as he opened the door. Okay, describing my office as magnificent and large is an understatement. It had a white and light brown color pallet with pops of red and gold. Very minimalist and modern interior but damn, it sure felt luxurious. There were 2 long couches in the middle of a large space with a square table in between. A little bit further was my desk made of Mahogany, two smaller chairs were in front of it, which I assumed were for guests. My chair was larger though kept with the overall theme of minimalism. Three doors, led to a small meeting room, a small kitchen and dining area, and the last one led to what I assumed was Etalos’ office. “Wow. This is my office?” “Yes.” “Why isn’t Patri’s like this?” “You’ve been mostly meeting him in his office at the residential palace. I assure you, his office here in the administrative section is at least twice as large as yours.” “Do we really need all of this?” “I’m sure you’ll be busier soon, and I’m assuming you’ll be spending more time here in the realm too. If not, well, we’ve got appearances to keep.” Etalos replied. “Are you okay with your office?” “Of course, I am, it’s nice Chris.” “Hmm... this makes your office back in Greensburg look like child’s play.” “Don’t worry about it. I like that set up too!” Etalos beamed. “You sure?” “Of course, I am, I like the contrast between the two offices.” “Fine...” “So now that we’re here... do I have anything on my schedule?” “Oh. Actually yes, nothing major, just a brief consultation with a PR team your grandfather hired for your public image.” *groan “Do I really have to?” “Stop whining.” Half an hour later, Etalos announced that the PR team has arrived. “Your highness,” a slender woman with bronze skin and mainly North African features greeted me with a light bow. Most likely from the Hegodeya tribe especially with the way she looked. She was followed by two younger looking men, who seemed to be in their late 20s but then again, with elves who knows. “Your highness,” they both bowed. “I’m Kalsina, and these are my associates Sendor and Rovith,” the female said, as she introduced the two good looking men she had with her. Both men were around 5’9 or 5’10 and with Turkish or Near Eastern features like Etalos. “A pleasure to meet you,” I replied, with the best smile I could muster. I asked the three of them to join me in my meeting room and they all followed me with Etalos. “So, what can I do for you?” I asked. “No, your highness, the question is what can we do for you?” Kalsina confidently smiled back at me. “What do you mean?” “We’ve been hired to polish your image,” “Polish?” I asked, in surprise. “It’s not bad, more of, well...” her voice trailed off as I felt her reach out to me with her magic. The female elf was left gasping for air the moment her aura connected with mine. “Kalsina, are you okay?” Rovith asked, with genuine concern on his face. “Just give me a moment,” she said, as with her left hand on her chest as she calmed her breathing Sendor eyed Kalsina suspiciously, as he started to think of what could possibly have happened. “No wonder they’ve hidden you from the public,” Kalsina continued as she collected herself. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Such power, such immense power.” “I believe you’ve been briefed with his highness’ energy level,” Etalos chimed in. “We have, but all it said was Prince Christopher is a Platinum. Believe me, I’ve worked with Platinums before, and they all pale in comparison with his powers.” “What do you mean Kalsina?” Sendor asked. “It means, we’ve got our work cut out for us His highness will need to be portrayed an approachable, kind, and caring royal,” Kalsina replied. “Hey, I’m all three of those,” I complained. “You may believe that, but with the mystery you’ve shrouded yourself in, and the immense power you released during your ascension, you’re far from being approachable right now.” Kalsina retorted. “So, what do I have to do?” I asked. “First, we release official pictures of you. All the public has right now, are stolen shots of you. That’s not good. Then I’ll work with my contacts in the media to write more relatable articles about you, like things about your interests and hobbies. I’ll also start rumors about you being kind to your peers and associates,” “Hey... I’m a very kind person,” I complained again. “Yes, I can attest to that,” Etalos said. “Again, that may be your version of it, but that’s something the public does not know.” Kalsina replied. “Then, we need to work on public appearances.” Rovith added. “Public appearances?” “Hmm. We’ll set an interview with a favorable media personality, then also we need you to do actual interactions with the public, probably visit a school or hospital.” Sendor said. “Right now, you’re very popular and have high ratings but that’s mainly because of rumors and an after effect of your ascension, those things won’t last.” Rovith said. “Uhm. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I’m pretty much occupied right now with affairs back on Earth.” I replied. “We know, but that’s another reason this is so important. The moment the realm starts feeling more of the effects of whatever’s happening back on Earth, the royal family’s popularity must be as strong as ever.” Kalsina replied. “I get it. Doesn’t mean I don’t feel a little bit manipulated about this,” I said with a little bit of edge in my voice. Then crossing my arms, I asked, “So what are my numbers?” “I thought you’d never ask,” Rovith smiled at me. His gray eyes sparkling with excitement. “You have 70% of the people approving of you, 28% with a neutral opinion, and 2% negative.” “What did I do to have people hold a negative opinion against me?” “Basically, citizens more or less, uneasy with how powerful you are, either they felt it through the ascension or maybe heard rumors about you being a Platinum at such an early age.” Kalsina replied. “Can’t help that I’m a Platinum,” “We know that, so we’re going to use that to our advantage. Okay?” Kalsina replied with a mischievous smile. “What do you plan?” Etalos asked. “We’re going to frame his strength and power, as something good for the realm. Some sort of a powerful figure against the demons. The media has already reported about the Prince’s win against the demon general, but the first round of coverage was milked in favor of the crown prince with the focus on the entire mission and not the defeat of Yonthar, so we make sure the next round in the media cycle is all about his highness, Prince Christopher. “Are Patri and my uncle okay with that?” I asked concerned that I might overshadow my uncle. “They are, the initial press coverage has already bumped your grandfather’s favorability by 3 points and your uncle’s by 6, that’s already good enough for them.” *sigh “Okay, let’s do this.” I said, with resignation in my voice. For the next hour or so we discussed the various plans Kalsina’s team had come up to with improve my image. Etalos and I made some suggestions, and the entire process was highly thought over, and to my chagrin, a little too scientific for my liking, it was cold, methodical, and well calculated, but then again, as a royal I guess, I’m expected to do some stuff that I’m not entirely comfortable with.
  14. After my unexpected energy outburst, I felt tired, incredibly tired which is something unusual for me. “I’m sleepy,” I said, as Victor crawled into the bed with me. My uncle and Yal had already left the room a few minutes ago, when the situation calmed down and they felt I was somehow stable and feeling better. “Go ahead and sleep. I’ll keep you company,” Victor said, as he slowly brushed my hair with his hand. My boyfriend’s touch has always been comforting and this time was no different, every time our skin made contact, I felt his soothing presence and care for me. God, I love this man! “What if I have an outburst again,” I said with concern in my voice. I certainly was not looking forward to trading in my Kumhaktas for a demon version of it. “Do you still feel unwell?” Victor asked. “No, just sleepy,” “Then sleep. We’ll work things out in the morning, what’s important now is that you’re able to rest.” I wanted to argue, but I knew he was right. I was definitely tired, and as much as I wanted to look deeper into what just happened, I could barely lift a finger or stay conscious. It did not take long for me to fall asleep. I was afraid that somehow Yonthar would visit me again in my dreams, but to my relief nothing, no dreams at all. Next time I opened my eyes, sunlight was already peering through the curtains while Victor was spooning me. Oh, how I relish his touch, I can never get enough of it. Despite being a vampire, Victor’s actually pretty warm. I spent several more minutes enjoying the bed but nature won over and I had to take my morning piss. Victor only mumbled a bit as I made a dash for the toilet. When I got back from the toilet, Victor was already waking up. “Good morning,” I said, smiling as my boyfriend yawned and stretched on the bed. “Mornin’ you feel better?” Victor asked as he rubbed his eyes. “Yeah, refreshed and more energetic,” I replied, with a smile as I joined Victor on the bed. I laid on my stomach and propped my chin on my hand and looked at my handsome boyfriend. “What?” Victor asked, with a confused expression. “You’re handsome,” I grinned at him. “I know,” he smugly replied. “Cocky much?” “Last time I checked you loved my cock,” he retorted. “That’s not what I meant,” I replied, slightly scandalized with this playful banter. “So, you don’t want my cock?” “Hey! I didn’t say that,” I protested. Then to prove my point, let’s just say I gave my boyfriend one hell of a good morning blowjob. — Dad, Etalos and Nomir were already eating breakfast when Victor and I joined them. “You doing okay Chris?” My dad asked. “Yeah, I’m fine,” I replied. “We felt it last night you know. Wanted to make a dash for your room but your uncle stopped us,” dad said, as he took a bite of his toast. “Probably for the best you didn’t see me last night. I was a mess,” I replied, slightly embarrassed at what happened. “Are you sure you’re okay?” Nomir asked. “Yeah, very much so, I plan to go to the Tower and realm today to look into it.” At that point My uncle, Yal, Kalron, and Jetan walked in to join us. They all checked on me and I reassured them, I was feeling better. “Guys, relax, Chris is back to his old self, so back to his old self that he gave me a...” “Victooor!” I said as I put both my hands on my boyfriend’s mouth. I was beet red and everyone else couldn’t help but laugh. “See... he’s back to his old energetic self, not that I’m complaining,” Victor said as he winked at me. Seriously, when did this become acceptable over breakfast? But at least dad was laughing and yeah, I did give Victor one of my best Chris Supreme BJs. “Okay lovebirds, TMI,” my uncle said, as he struggled to hold in his laughter. I collected myself and then asked Kalron, “So, did the energy scanners capture anything last night?” “Actually Chris, yes, the results were rather surprising.” “Surprising or more of another world record broken?” Yal teased. “What... what did the scanners say?” I asked. “Your little outburst last night, not only sent our scanners in Greensburg haywire, even scanners as far as New York and Atlanta were able to detect it,” Yal replied. “Am sorry what?” “No one got hurt right?” “No one got hurt, whatever happened last night was more of an energy earthquake of some sort, nothing physical,” my uncle replied as he calmly ate his food. “Why are you so calm about this?” I asked as I was starting to panic. “Chris, it’s you we are talking about. In the months I’ve known you, I’ve come to learn to think that anything’s possible, whenever a new record is broken, I’m less flabbergasted and more curious, then we can sort things out as we look deeper,” my uncle replied. “That’s after the initial shock of course, no matter how calm you try to be, it’s always a shock at first,” Yal added as he gave a light chuckle. “It can’t always be that surprising,” I complained. They all exchanged glances that told me otherwise. —- After breakfast, I decided to work on the portal to the realm. I meditated in one of the spare rooms in my wing of the house. I collected my thoughts and went deep into my mind. Information regarding the realm and the barrier came flooding in, I added some things I’ve read in the scrolls and books, with the information Patri gave me. I tugged on my chains and they loosened enough for me to have access to a larger amount of energy. I then reached out with my mind to the spare room in the palace where Patri wanted the portal to be, then I concentrated on the floor in front of me. Slowly, but surely a circular slab of stone materialized in front of me. The stone was gray and smooth, barely 4 feet across, just enough for two or three people to fit at any given time. The room was abuzz with energy and I could feel that the stone was directly connected to its counterpart on the other side. I infused it with my energy, so anyone using the portal will only need to tug on their magic to activate it rather than pour energy into the stones as they would in a normal portal. I can’t have my friends unnecessarily waste their energy. To make sure that no unwanted entity can use this portal, I cast recognition spells and embedded them in the portal, with this, only friends and family can use it. After more than half an hour of crafting the portal, I was done! Just before lunch I pulled my uncle and Etalos with me to what is now the portal room. “What’s this?” My uncle asked. “It’s the portal duh,” I replied. “Wait what?” “Chris, did you just make a portal in less than an hour?” Etalos asked. “Sure, I did, was it supposed to be shorter?” I asked curiously, I was starting to think that my abilities were getting rusty. “No no, the portals we have in the realm took almost a month!” My uncle replied. “Oh, uhm, well this is smaller so surely this one is easier to make, right?” “Uh Huh,” my uncle shook his head in disbelief. “Wanna try it out?” I asked with excitement in my voice. I was definitely proud of this portal. “Sure, how do we activate it?” “Just pour some of your energy on it then that should take you to the palace. Let’s have Etalos try it.” “Chris, I’m barely a silver, I can’t possibly open a portal alone,” Etalos replied with a hint of resignation in his voice. “None sense, this is our portal, I made sure anyone of us can use it, even dad or Leo,” I almost smugly replied as I repeatedly raised a single eyebrow at them. “Seriously?” Etalos replied as his eyes widened in near shock but more of excitement at the thought of being able to open a portal on his own. “Definitely serious, trust me on this, this is our special portal, with this I won’t have to ferry all of you across the barrier.” “Then come on now Etalos, try it,” my uncle said as he lightly pushed my assistant towards the stone. We all gathered inside the stone and with after taking a deep breath, Etalos said, “Here goes nothing,” The transition to the realm was almost instant and after being surrounded by a bright flash of light and mild tingling on the skin, we found ourselves in the palace. “Wow,” Etalos said as we stepped off the stone into the portal room in the palace. “Well done Chris,” My uncle said. “See, seamless,” I proudly retorted. “A smoother experience than the normal portals, it’s as if there’s no resistance at all,” my uncle proudly noted. “Well duh, I designed it to be that way.” “Chris, those required major alterations in the barrier,” my uncle said. “Not much really, just a snip here and there and vwalla, portal ala Haldruin” “Here’s another one for the books,” my uncle muttered shaking his head as we exited the room. It was almost midnight in the realm due to the time difference so the palace was quiet. My uncle headed to his office to check on his ministry while Etalos went to ours, weirdly enough I’ve never set foot in my office in the realm. With my two companions busy with their own errands, I decided to visit the palace library. The library was large and eerily quiet, but then again, the tower was very much like this as well. I used the digital catalogue to check on Tashik magic and ancient spells and surprisingly enough there were a few books available on those topics. I finished skimming through 3 books within an hour but I discovered nothing of note. Oh well, I guess I should try the tower for this. —- We made it back to Greensburg at 1pm for a late lunch, after which I showed Dad, Yal, Nomir, Kalron, and Jetan how to use the portal. To see their reactions on using the portal was priceless, they were all so giddy and excited. My dad couldn’t believe it when he activated the portal with ease. He described it as just a light tingle on his magic and then the portal just opened for him. I can’t wait to show this to Victor, Leo, and August. My friends did not wait to put the portal to good use. The portal room was busy for the rest of the day as various memos and orders were exchanged between the two worlds. Late evening, I went to the realm with Victor and my uncle to visit Patri. “I heard you’ve finished the portal,” Patri said from behind his desk. “Faster than expected father,” my uncle noted. “Well, this certainly will make it easier for us to coordinate our operations,” Patri noted. “Patri, there’s something else we want to talk to you about,” I said. “What is it?” “Well, I kind of had an episode last night,” I sullenly remarked. “Episode?” “Chris gave off waves upon waves of energy sir, he was in a different state of sorts while it was happening,” Victor noted. “What do you mean?” “Kalron’s scanners as far as New York and Atlanta even detected it, it was some sort of energy earthquake,” My uncle added. “Are you okay Chris? Was this another Kumhakta? I thought the chains had taken care of those,” my grandfather said, as he stood from his chair. He approached me and tilted my face as if to inspect me. “I’m fine Patri, maybe another scan?” I said shrugging my shoulders. “I’ll call Sarad to have it arranged,” Patri replied after a few more light touches on my arms and face. Changing topics, Patri asked my uncle, “Any updates on the demon threat?” “None so far, they’ve been quiet since Yonthar perished.” “There’s another thing I’m worried about sir,” Victor said. “What is it Victor?” “The Blood Army, they’ve been awfully quiet ever since the Gustav incident, even our agents and intelligence officers are surprised with their lack of activity,” Victor said with a worried expression on his face. “Has our network discovered anything about this?” “None so far father, our information aligns with that of the VHC’s,” My uncle replied. “Victor, has there been other times that the Blood Army has been like this?” “Yes, but not this quiet, there have always been low level attacks in rural vampire or sometimes even human and werewolf establishment at least once a week even on their most quiet moments, but this time, nothing. Even the vampire syndicates have toned down their activities,” Victor said with clear frustration and confusion in his voice. “Can we assume they’ve been wiped out? If I remember correctly, Gustav was easily able to infiltrate their ranks and killed one of their founders, Agatha,” I asked. “So, a demon wipeout of the Blood Army?” My uncle asked. “But where are the bodies? Surely there should be hundreds if not a few thousand members of the Blood Army, right? With the syndicates included there should even be more,” Patri said. “Could they have been turned into Anami? That would be a problem,” Victor said as he crossed his arms and mull things over. “Another general then?” My uncle asked. “Chris, when you invaded the female demon’s mind, did you gather any intel or hint regarding the Blood Army or syndicates?” “Nothing that would point towards this,” I grimly replied. —- Victor stayed with me for the night. He didn’t want to risk me being alone in case I have another episode, at least until we get the scan again with Sarad. We were supposed to have the scan earlier but the Master Healer and Zenfar felt that the equipment was not yet up to the task. I fell asleep beside Victor as my boyfriend was busy handling VHC affairs on his laptop. Being a councilor certainly made him busier compared to his days as a governor or maybe it’s just due to this demon crisis. I was alone in the middle of a grassy field again, I was lucid enough to know that I was dreaming. The wind felt cold against my skin and the rusting of the leaves and grass made it all seem real. I looked around and and reached out with my energy only to realize that I was with someone. The bright blue sky and the fresh breeze of the cold air made me feel at ease. I felt no threat from whomever that was watching me. “Hello?” I called out. Silence. “Yonthar?” I loudly asked. Silence. “Uhm... someone else out there? Hello?” “Hello, young prince,” a calm and soothing voice of a woman replied. “Please show yourself,” I said. “It’s not time,” replied a man’s voice. “When will the time be?” I asked. “You’ll know,” the woman replied. “Who are you?” Silence “What are you?” “There...” a younger man’s voice replied. “I’m confused,” I almost desperately replied. “We’ve been there,” a younger woman’s voice echoed in the air. “Huh?” “Soon,” the older man replied, as his voice rumbled through the otherwise quiet field. As the dream faded away, I heard the quiet rustling of chains from beyond. —- I was greeted by piercing green eyes intently looking at me when I woke up. “What are you looking at?” I asked Victor. “You, you seemed to have been having quite a nice dream,” he mused. “Hmm,” “You were drooling,” Victor lightly laughed. “I do not drool!” Victor cupped my face with his left hand and used his thumb to wipe off some liquid I refuse to call saliva from the corners of my lips. “See?” He replied with a raised eyebrow. I could only huff in response. “It’s good to know that even a prince drools in his sleep,” Victor teased as he put his thumb on his mouth and sucked on it. “Victor... that’s gross,” I remarked. “We’ve done other liquids, and besides how is this any different from kissing you?” Victor replied with a grin. *groan* point taken. “So, what were you dreaming of? Do you remember?” “Voices,” I somberly replied. “Voices?” “Yeah, just voices.” “Yonthar?” “No, different, I don’t know. I’m even more confused now,” “Something we should worry about?” “I don’t think so, I didn’t feel like they meant me any harm.” “You sure?” “Yeah, they said it wasn’t time,” “Time for what?” “I don’t know.” “You’re certainly a man of mystery, aren’t you?” “Too much mystery for my liking,” I replied. “Come on, breakfast,” Victor said, he roused from the bed. —- Tuesday morning was mainly spent with me studying for my upcoming matriculation test. Dad was with Etalos to learn more Air magic while My uncle, Yal, and Jetan went back to the realm to deal with their ministerial duties. Nomir was busy coordinating with his vampire and werewolf counterparts while Kalron spent most of his time coordinating our intelligence effort. My boyfriend on the other hand spent his day with Henry as they worked on Henry’s transition into being the vampire OIC for Virginia. “The snow’s getting worse,” dad said as he observed the snowfall from the kitchen window. “Are we expecting a blizzard?” I asked. “Nothing like that mentioned in the news,” dad replied. “I hope this isn’t one of those Arctic blast I’ve heard you mention before,” Etalos said. With his statement, I remembered how the realm did not have any such things. “Don’t worry about it Etalos, if it comes to that it will just be for a night or two,” I said. “That’s scary,” Etalos meekly replied. Oh, is my assistant precious or what? He’s too cute for his own good! I gotta find him a boyfriend! After lunch, I went to the Tower to see if it had anything about my recent dreams. I found myself in one of the deeper levels of the tower, how many stories underground? That I don’t know. I reached out to the tower with my magic and started speaking to it, “Uhm hello? I need your help again.” Silence. Though what did I expect? If the tower started to speak, I would have been scared shitless. I tried to recall both the dreams I had in the recent nights and tried to convey it to the tower with my magic. After several seconds, I felt a tug in my senses and I was drawn into a series of shelves. I could only hope that the three books in front of me will be of help with whatever dilemma I’m faced with. Flipping through the pages of the first book, I found it empty. Ha! Can’t fool me now, I know how to deal with this, I thought to myself. I poured energy into the book but nothing. I tried the second book and just like the first one it was blank, the third book wasn’t any different. No matter the amount of energy I poured into the books, not a single letter appeared! I was about to give up and just staled the books on top of each other. In frustration I let out a loud groan and in anger, slight outburst of energy that may or may have not shook the tower’s walls. To my amazement the books started glowing and then out of instinct I let out another burst of energy but this time directing most of it to the books. I could only hope the realm’s sensors would not go haywire as I’m sure I’m pouring in a Platinum’s worth of energy into the stack of books. I could feel the air vibrate as the entire floor was awash with energy. The books continued to glow and then they started to fuse! “What the...” I muttered to myself. The book in front of me looked new and was bound in white leather with gold and silver inscriptions along its spine. “Evalta par Shazag” It read in an ancient elvish dialect. ‘What’s this supposed to mean?’ I asked myself, this dialect is reminiscent but slightly different from the elvish I know and the ancient elvish I’ve encountered before. “What now Tower?” I asked out loud. Silence, as expected. Skimming through the pages, I realize that I’m unable to understand the book! *groan I thought of pouring more energy into the book in hope of maybe the letters would rearrange themselves but nope, didn’t work. “Fuuuck!” Frustrated and in resignation, I left the tower with the book in tow. —- After Dinner, I asked Kalron to give me an update on the events of the day. He informed me that there weren’t any suspicious movements across the cities we’ve been monitoring. “That’s a good thing, right?” I asked. “Gives us more time to prepare,” he replied. “How’s the training of the agents?” “It’s in full swing and the WCC and VHC sent more agents to join the effort.” “Is the New York facility large enough?” “For now, it is.” “How about its security?” “It’s well protected, we’ve had several of our agents cast protective spells around it.” “Let me know if I there’s anything I can do to help.” “Of course, Chris.” “We should look into opening more training facilities. I’ll talk to Patri and my uncle about that. Do you think the WCC or the VHC has a large enough compound to host such a large retinue?” “We know of several facilities.” “Great! I’ll make that happen then.” —- It’s refreshing to see my other uncle and Matra again. Finally, they’re back from the provinces. “I missed both of you!” I said as I hugged each of them. “We missed you too,” Matra said as she returned my hug. “We’ve heard you’ve had quite the adventure,” My uncle said as he hugged me. “That’s quite the understatement uncle.” “Haha! I bet it is.” Patri, Matra, and both my uncles were present to see me get scanned by Zenfar and Sarad again. “We’ve made the necessary upgrades. Hopefully it’s enough to capture the most minute changes in Chris’ abilities,” Zenfar said. “I’m not sure if there’s anything else we can do if this scan fails,” Sarad added. I entered the tube and spent several minutes inside it. The faces of Zenfar and Sarad were hard to read. They just exchanged glances as the data streamed through the screens in front of them. “So, anything significant?” Patri asked a few minutes after I walked out of the tube. “I don’t even know where to begin Your Majesty,” Zenfar sighed in response. “Is it bad?” I squeaked. “We don’t think so,” Master Healer Sarad replied. “You don’t think so?” Matra asked in a concerned manner. “What do you mean by that Sarad?” Patri added, his voice concerned yet anxious at the same time. Sarad and Zenfar exchanged looks and after a moment or two, Zenfar spoke, “Sir, Chris’ energy signature changed again,” “Huh?” Patri remarked. “Wait... energy signature? Not energy level?” Uncle Rehanmir clarified. “Yes, your highness.” “Then why didn’t the alarms go off again?” “It’s not demon energy that triggered the change.” “So, Yonthar’s energy is no longer in me?” I asked. “It’s still there sir, but something else was added into the mix, several actually” “Come again?” I asked. “Multiple elvish signatures have been added sir, but observing the data it seems they’re all being integrated to yours, if we scanned you next week instead of today, there’s a high chance we wouldn’t have captured this.” “I’m assimilating these unknown energies?” “Yes.” “What else do we know of these energy signatures?” Matra asked. “Aside from them being elvish in nature, we know they’re all something that’s dissimilar to anything we have in the census.” “And that means?” Matra clarified. “It’s old, very old in fact.” —- “So how was your scan? Sorry I couldn’t join you.” Victor said as he crawled into the bed with me. “Confusing,” I replied as I laid my head on Victor’s bare chest. “Care to explain?” “Are you sure you want to hear? It’s more questions than answers I’m afraid.” My boyfriend chuckled, “what’s new with that?” “Fair enough,” I replied lightly laughing as well. I explained to Victor what the results were and he did his best to appear not so surprised. “So, wait? Are you saying there are multiple beings inside of you?” “I don’t know Victor. Sarad and Zenfar are not confident that the scan would be able to ascertain that theory.” “Well at least you’re assimilating them into you right?” “Yeah, even Yonthar’s is slowly being diluted they said. Maybe that’s why I’m less grumpy now.” “Oh yeah, grumpy you is scary.” “Not that scary.” “Say that to the demons you vaporized. That certainly gave me quite the scare.” “So... you afraid of me?” I asked. “Should I be?” “Maybe...” I said with a mischievous grin. “Oh no, I know that look!” I moved so fast Victor wasn’t able to stop me from riding the erect cock he was hiding underneath the sheets. —- “I’m still here,” came from a sinister looking version of myself. “Yonthar?” “No matter how much you try to absorb me, my essence will remain, you cannot erase me,” he smugly replied. “Wrong!” a thunderous voice interjected. It came from all directions I couldn’t decipher where it was coming from. “What are you doing Chris? Who’s out there? It should just be the both of us in here!” “Light will erase what is dark. With absolute and eternal light, even shadows disappear,” came from another female’s voice. It was firm yet soothing at the same time. Yonthar’s eyes blew wide open as if he realized something. His eyes shined bright purple as he struggled to move from his spot. “No no... this can’t be happening! You’re all just a myth!” He screamed. “What are you saying Yonthar?” I asked in awe and shock as I watched him squirm. “You don’t even know do you?” Yonthar replied, his eyes in panic and all his movements spoke of terror and desperation. “What’s happening Yonthar?” And before the demon could reply, I was pulled out of the dream. —- I was gasping for air when I woke up. “Chris? Are you okay?” Victor asked. “Yeah, just a nightmare I think” “Chris, we know your dreams aren’t just dreams right? Those could be visions.” Victor said as he felt my forehead with his hand to check if I had a fever. “Fuck, I can barely remember what it was about, but I know Yonthar was there, and voices, ugh shit shit, I’ve lost it. The more I try to remember the more I forget!” “Chris, take it easy. I’ll get you some water okay?” “Thanks, Victor.” After drinking some water and Victor’s soothing touch, I was able to go back to sleep. No more nightmares or visions this time around. God, what did I dream about? I just feel it was important but I couldn’t help but have the memory of it fall out of my grasp. —- “You feeling better?” Victor asked as we ate breakfast together. For a change we decided to eat at the Diner. It’s been so long since I last visited the place. “Yeah, way better. Where’s Nomir and Etalos they should be here soon!” I complained, I invited the two elves to join us at the diner. “Remember, it was you that asked them to do those errands first you know?” “Yeah, I almost forgot.” “What were those errands about anyway?” “Leo’s birthday is coming up!” I said. “Wait what? And you did not tell me about this? Does August even know?!” “Of course, he does, well I think he does.” “When is Leo’s birthday?” “This Saturday.” Victor pulled out his phone and dialed August’s number. “August, what are your plans for Leo’s birthday. He’s turning 18 you know.” I could hear a panic stricken werewolf on the other side of the phone. I couldn’t quite understand what he was trying to say but I did hear several expletives. “August, it’s this Saturday, get your sorry ass back in Greensburg by then!” Victor said as he ended the call. “I guess that means he doesn’t know?” I chuckled. “I can’t believe he doesn’t know Leo’s birthday. Werewolves...” Victor said in an accusatory manner. “And my birthday is when?” I asked Victor with a slightly raised eyebrow. “September...” Victor said as he tried to avoid my gaze. “September when?” “September uhm... “ I felt a slight nudge in my mental shields, “No cheating Victor, you know my mental shields are stronger than yours,” “I swear I know. It just slipped okay?” Victor said in a rather defensive manner as he crossed his arms. “As if you know mine,” Victor accused. “Is that a dare Victor Meyer?” I said as I tilted my head as if to challenge my boyfriend to dare me. “No...” “I thought so,” I smirked back at him. “At least I know the month!” He defended himself. “Do you know that forgetting a prince’s birthday is a punishable offense?” “And what would the punishment be?” Victor dared to ask. I shot him a mental image of me draining his balls. Hmm... a long day of sucking and fucking should satiate a miffed royal’s cravings. Gosh am I a horny boy or what? I’d like to think this is still some lingering effect from the Ascension, or maybe just maybe I’m as horny as I seem to be.
  15. Chris POV I got out of the tube, it seemed the rest of the guys had been having an in depth discussion about me, behind the sound proof glass. They all exchanged cautious glances as I exited the tube. “So, what did it say?” I asked Sarad and Zenfar. “There’s a lot of data that we need to work on,” Sarad replied. “Give us a day or two, I’m sure we’ll be able to give you something more detailed,” Zenfar added. “Ohh. I see,” I replied with a hint of disappointment in my voice. I really wanted to get this over with. Victor sensed my concern and scooted up beside me, my boyfriend simply whispered, “give them time, I’m sure it’s going to be worth the wait,” he said with a smile. Gosh I’m so in love with this guy. We’ve been together for several months now, sometimes I can’t still wrap my head around the fact that behind his teenage facade, is a 260 plus year old vampire. “Okay, let’s go, we have to plan what we’ll disclose to the VHC and WCC,” Patri said as he nodded towards Victor. Though unspoken, it was made clear that Victor would take the elves’ side on this one, rather than the VHC. As we walked back to Patri’s office, I whispered to Victor, “Aren’t you going to get in trouble over this?” “It’s not even a choice when it comes to you Chris. I’d always choose you,” he said with a warm smile. We spent more than an hour discussing the things we thought of disclosing to the VHC and WCC. Having Victor on our side helped, he gave us insights about the machinations of the two councils, and even went further in discussing what he knew about the councilors and senior officials of the other races. We might have Yal’s spy network to give us statistics, but nothing could beat the first-hand experience that Victor brought into the conversation. As we finished our discussion, I heard Patri chuckle as he set his gaze on my boyfriend. “You’ve been a big help to us Victor. I can definitely see you being my grandson-in-law,” Patri teased. Victor was speechless, and I couldn’t help but blush. “ZoHal, there’s no need to tease these two love birds, it’s early days, but yeah, I can totally get behind a royal wedding,” King Ethnar piped in with his own mischievous grin. “Uh.. ahm, I don’t know what to say,” Victor stammered, as he did his best to politely avert the piercing looks from my grandfathers. My uncle let him off the hook, or so I thought by saying, “It’s okay Victor, these two oldies are just teasing.” Victor was able to compose himself a bit, but my uncle just had to add, “I’m not sure if it’s possible or not, but with Chris, it seems almost anything’s possible, so I’d really like to play with cute princes and princesses as nephews and nieces okay?” Victor went as pale as a ghost and I wasn’t far behind him, much to the amusement of my family and friends. I can’t believe this day started with me dreading how to talk about the entire thing with Yonthar, now here I am talking about having kids with my family! ‘Geez, I’m only 18 give me a break!’ I thought. —- We made it back to earth with a few minutes to spare before the conference call. Victor returned to his place while the rest of us prepared for the conference call. The co-chairs of the WCC, Juan and Luigi, were joined by August, Olaf, and three other alphas to represent the werewolves. The three alphas were not WCC councilors but were close confidants of several absent WCC members and served as their proxies in the meeting. Reza, Konrad, Victoria, Jeppe, Luca and Victor were on screen to represent the VHC. I was joined by my uncle, Yal, and Kalron to represent the elves. “It’s good to see everyone’s in good spirits. Congratulations everybody,” Luigi said, as he started the meeting. “Our victory however did come at a cost,” Konrad ruefully replied. It was clear he didn’t like losing some agents in the process, but it’s the reality of the situation. “How many did we lose?” Victoria asked. “We lost 7 in Grand Rapids last night. 4 vampires and 3 werewolves,” Juan replied. “We lost 5 in Indianapolis, 3 vampires, 1 werewolf, and 1 elf,” Konrad added. I then looked at Yal, as embarrassing as it is, I’ve forgotten to ask how our contingent did in Cleveland last night. Yal cleared his throat then added the statistics for our mission, “We lost 6, 3 werewolves, 2 vampires, and 1 elf.” I did the math, and we lost 18 in a single night. I gritted my teeth in frustration at the cost we had to pay, to put a dent in the demon resurgence. “At least we were able to rescue the Anami turned agents,” Victor said in an attempt to lighten the mood. “Yes, that’s something we could celebrate. Also, we were able to save several hundred human prisoners. We were able to rescue 424 in total from the three compounds,” August added. “Just 424? I thought 10,000 went missing from Detroit?” Jeppe asked “They’re still unaccounted for,” Juan replied. “No, I’ve accounted for them or most of them at least,” I tersely replied with a grim expression on my face, remembering how I was able to stumble upon such an information. “Huh? What do you mean your highness?” Luigi asked. “Chris? What are you trying to say?” Reza asked as he furrowed his brows in confusion. “Before Yonthar arrived, Victor, August, and myself, we fought against three demons, one of them I was able to capture, and I was able to read her mind,” I replied. “What did you find out?” Konrad asked. “Some of the people abducted from Detroit, were turned into those demon enhanced fighters that some of our teams fought, but there’s something else,” I softly said. I took a deep breath to calm myself, keeping the anger and frustration building inside me in check. I’ve already shared this information when I went to the realm, but repeating it a second time wasn’t easier. “Yonthar already used several thousand of those people to create the demons we fought. He harvested their souls, infused it with malignant energy, and crafted demons. Yonthar ripped souls from each and every one of his victims. From what I gathered from the female demon, each demon is composed of at least 20 human souls, although some are made up of more.” “What?” Victoria said as she choked in disbelief. “So, we’re working against 500 demons now?” Jeppe observed in a calm fashion. “I don’t think that’s the case, the demon creation process is a tedious one and the success rate is rather low, and let’s remember they’ve used some of their victims as demon enhanced guards, so maybe were working with 100 or so demons,” I replied. “Since our mission has killed more than 20 of them, does that mean we’re working with 70 demons on the loose now?” Olaf asked. “That seems to be the case,” my uncle confirmed. “So, where’s the rest of them?” Reza asked. “Our surveillance drones captured images and videos of several individuals escaping the compounds when it was clear we had won, though we can’t be sure that all of those were demons,” Kalron explained. He looked at his tablet and after several swipes, he was able to share with the rest of the group several images that showed a video snippet of individuals escaping the compounds. “70 demons eh? That’s quite a lot,” August mused. “At least Yonthar wasn’t able to build an army of a thousand,” I replied. “Well, I guess you’re right, but 70 is still quite a lot.” “It is, but we’ll just have to prepare for it. I doubt they’ll make a move so soon after such a heavy defeat,” Yal said as he exchanged looks with me and my uncle. “I guess you’re right on that one Yal,” August said. “We have to train harder and prepare ourselves for a possible retaliation,” Victoria suggested. The female vampire wore an expression of frustration and anxiety, she had every right to be both. “We should keep the local alphas and vampire governors on high alert,” Victor suggested. “Definitely,” Olaf agreed. “There’s more,” I piped in. “What is it Chris?” Luca asked with concern in his voice. As handsome as he is, his face couldn’t hide the fact that he was afraid things were going to get worse. “There are more generals on the loose,” The faces of several people on screen went a few shades paler at that moment. “Are you serious?! How do you know that?” Olaf remarked in disbelief. “Calm yourself Olaf,” Luigi said with a commanding tone. “How many?” Reza asked. “I don’t know, but several,” I replied. “How did you get hold of this information?” Olaf asked. “Yonthar said it to me before he died,” I replied as I exchanged furtive looks with my uncle and Yal. Victor shot me a worried expression on the screen as well. Bringing up Yonthar’s death was sure to evoke questions from the rest. “Is it possible that Yonthar is lying?” One of the werewolf alphas asked. “I hope that is the case but I don’t see any reason for him to lie,” I retorted. “A single general was able to wreak so much havoc, I mean look at Detroit, a few more could do so much worse,” Konrad piped in. The head of Stratos was visibly shaken by the news of other generals, but it seems his mind was already working on plans for a response. “Any updates on the humans?” Luca asked. “What of them?” Victoria sighed, it’s clear she wasn’t placing any bets on a strong human response to the situation at hand. “The American government is rebuilding FRUSI, the Canadians, and Europeans seem to have caught wind of that something’s amiss and are already beefing up their respective organizations as well,” “We should have people from the VHC and WCC reach out to them,” Reza suggested. “I’m sure they’ll jump right into it. They wouldn’t miss such an opportunity,” Yal remarked. “Though we don’t want the humans to know of the return of the elves just yet,” My uncle noted. He was calm, yet firm on that point. For the next hour or so, we discussed how to tweak the training programs of our agents, and enhancing the security for vital vampire and werewolf facilities across the world. For the elves, bolstering the security on the portal compounds was already a given, Jetan was already hard at work on that. As soon as the video conference ended, I breathed a sigh of relief, no one tried to fish information out of me regarding how I defeated Yonthar. It seems, with my powers, the rest didn’t seem to think it was too far fetched for me to beat a demon general. —- I spent Saturday morning hanging around with Leo. I welcomed the chance to spend time with my best friend, the past few days have been hectic for me. “So, how’s training?” I asked Leo while we were eating breakfast. “Not bad, Nomir and Etalos have been helping me every now and then but I’m having difficulties with the fire spells. Nomir’s an earth elf and Etalos is air so they can’t help me with fire based magic,” Leo sighed in slight frustration. “So, you’ve been focusing on energy and protective spells then?” I asked. “Yeah.” “Wanna go to the realm this afternoon? I’m sure, we can find a fire elf to teach you some stuff.” “That would be nice,” Leo said with a hint of excitement in his voice. “Cool, consider it done then,” I smiled back at him. “I guess having a prince for a best friend has its perks,” Leo teased, as he wiggled his eyebrows. “I guess it does,” I said, smiling back at him. “So, how’d the conference go last night? August has not shared a lot but from what I’ve heard, you totally crushed the enemy in Cleveland,” *sigh “The conference call was routine, same old same old, lots of old guys discussing stuff,” “I hope you don’t think of me when you’re referring to the old folks,” My uncle said as he walked in on us. He had a mischievous grin as he joined us. “Nah, you’re not that old,” I grinned back at him. “Good!” “Oh, uncle, you’re a fire elf, right?” “Uhm, yeah? Did you forget, I taught some of the stuff you know?” “I didn’t, I just wanted to ask if you can teach Leo over here some fire spells,” I replied. “Certainly, I’d love to teach Leo.” “Really?” My best friend said with a mix of surprise and excitement in his voice. “Of course, I heard that you’re just about to reach the bronze level, that’s impressive.” “Yal told me, in a week or two Leo’s energy level should reach bronze,” I confirmed. “That’s great!” My uncle exclaimed. “It’s just bronze though,” Leo said with mild disappointment in his face. He was clearly frustrated about not being of a higher level. “Leo, when you arrived in the realm you registered as Copper+ right?” “Yes” “That was just a few weeks ago, reaching Bronze- in such a short time is impressive, most elves wouldn’t even dream of such a rapid level of development.” “Really?” Leo said with a higher pitch. He eyed my uncle for a few seconds to check if he was joking but it was evident my uncle was serious. After breakfast, we went to the training area where my uncle spent time teaching Leo some fire spells. Etalos and dad also joined us a few minutes later, to work on dad’s air magic. The hour long training session was productive. Leo was able to improve the range of his fire based attack spells, while dad was able to strengthen his defensive air spells. My father wasn’t far behind Leo in terms of energy level, Yal noted that in a month’s time he should breach the bronze level as well. I met Etalos as a Bronze+, he recently reached Silver-, Yal and my uncle have theorized that being near me helps people have higher energy levels. Zenfar and Sarad are actually curious to test Victor, they have this feeling that he’s not Gold level anymore. I wonder if feeding him my blood has helped him, I’d have to admit that my boyfriend has certainly become stronger and faster the past few weeks. —- “Chris, I think we should look into building a portal here in your place. I mean we can’t always have you transport us,” my uncle suggested, while we were eating lunch. “Hmm, I suppose you’re right, but isn’t it a security risk though? On top of that, how do we even create a portal?” “I’m sure father has some insights in making sure only a select few can use the portal. As one of the creators of the realm, I’m sure he knows the ins and outs of the barrier, with that we can minimize the risk of any unwanted intrusion.” “I guess you’re right.” “Having a portal here would certainly make our lives easier. I wouldn’t be dependent on you to take me to and from the realm, as your secretary I have to cross quite often,” Etalos remarked. “I see your point,” I replied. “It would be cool, to visit the realm every now and then,” Leo said. “Just make sure you keep it a secret from Reza and Konrad, or they will be here all the time for a shopping spree in the realm. Those two would make a killing selling our goods at a high margin,” Yal joked. “Hahaha, I see where you’re coming from, those two certainly have an eye for elvish products,” I replied in amusement, remembering how both vampires spent most of their money buying paintings, sculptures, and tons of other stuff when they visited the realm. —- In the early afternoon, I was joined by my uncle, Yal, Leo, and Etalos in crossing into the realm. Nomir was left behind to guard the house, while Kalron and Jetan remained to coordinate with the other races on the intelligence gathering process. Despite the defeat of Yonthar we remained on high alert, especially for a possible attack from the other generals or whatever remained of Yonthar’s demon army. My uncle was able to find several Akros agents to help Leo with training. Etalos on the other hand went to visit my office in the palace complex, I think he had some files and emails to tend to. With the 12 hour time difference, it was early in the morning, so the palace was emptier than usual. With the enhanced security measures implemented, no corridor was left without a guard. Good thing Zenfar and Sarad were able to adjust the alarms to my energy signature, or the noise would have jerked everyone from their sleep. “Almost forgot the time difference,” I said. “It’s okay, we elves don’t need much sleep anyway. I’m sure you’ve observed you barely need sleep. It’s more of cultural thing rather than a physical thing for us,” my uncle replied. “Still does not make me feel better about treating the wee hours of the morning as work hours though,” I muttered in reply. “Don’t worry about it, everyone that’s on duty right now are suppose to be on duty, we’re not disturbing anyone,” Yal chimed in, from behind my uncle. “So, I’m guessing, Patri, Matra, and Uncle Selvenus are still asleep?” “Probably, but there’s only one way to find out,” my uncle said with a mischievous smile as we made our way to Patri’s office. A green light on the panel after swiping our hands, told us that Patri was in his office. “Woah, Patri, didn’t expect you to still be awake,” I said in surprise as we walked in. “Just finishing some stuff,” Patri replied. “I hope we’re not bothering you,” I said. “Of course not, anything for my favorite grandson,” Patri teased. “I’m your only grandson.” “Precisely,” Patri said with a playful smirk. “Father, I suggested to Chris that he should place a portal in his house. What if he is unavailable when any of us need to cross to Greensburg immediately,” my uncle said. “Actually, Selvenus and your mother have been talking about that as well, that is something that we’ve been considering for a while now.” “Where are Matra and Uncle Selvenus anyway?” I asked. “Hmm, your Matra, has been preoccupied with local government affairs in the southern province, while Selvenus, has been busy beefing up our security forces.” “I miss them,” I replied. “They miss you too,” Patri said as he shared in my longing for both my grandmother and uncle. “When do I get to see them?” “Your Matra should be back here in the Capital in a few days. While your uncle is making the rounds across several training centers throughout the realm, he’ll be back here soon as well,” “Okay,” I sighed with mild disappointment. “Anyway, how do we go about making a portal in Greensburg?” “I’m sure you’re already aware, the portal in your place will not be an ordinary one. It should be something only a select few will be able to use. If either end is compromised, it’s a direct entry point here to the palace or to your place in Greensburg,” Patri said. “Yeah, is there a way we can program the portal to only allow specific individuals to cross over? Also, what about the issue of the required energy to trigger the portal?” I asked. “With your energy level and skill, I’m sure we can work around the limitations of a normal portal. You barely feel any resistance when you cross the barrier, right?” “Yes.” Patri chuckled and shook his head in disbelief. “What’s the matter?” I asked. “Chris, the barrier strengthening process has not ceased. We’ve increased the strength of the barrier by almost 50% now,” Patri replied. “Really?” “Not to mention, recently we’ve been tagging along with you. That’s certainly impressive,” Yal said. “Okay, I’ll share my knowledge of the barrier. With your powers, I’m sure you’ll be able to craft a specialized portal with ease,” Patri said, as he stood and approached me. My grandfather touched my head with his right hand, instantly I felt warm and tingly all over. The surge of information, regarding the nature of the barrier rushed into my head, it was exhilarating and almost overwhelming at the same time. I was breathing heavily when the deluge of information from Patri ended. Patri smiled at me and said, “so, you think you can make a portal for us?” “Uh, I think so yeah,” I nodded in agreement. “Good! Work on it, when you feel refreshed.” “Yeah, I’m still a bit dazed right now,” I replied. “Since you’re here anyway, I think we should discuss your image in the realm,” Patri said, changing topics. “Image?” “Chris, it’s been weeks since your Ascension, and you haven’t made any official public appearance yet,” Yal explained as he gave my shoulders a light squeeze. “Do I really have to?” I whined. “Chris, you know better than that. Of course, you have to be presented to the public,” my uncle said as he raised his eyebrows at me. Of course, I knew this was a long time coming but it doesn’t mean, I should like or look forward to it. “The media has been in a frenzy since our recent victory over the demons, they want to know more about you. As of now, you’re this mysterious powerful prince that people only hear rumors about,” my uncle continued in almost a warning tone. “I’ll have the PR team work with Etalos to discuss some public appearances okay? A tv interview is in the works as well.” Patri said with finality in his tone. I couldn’t help but reluctantly agree with their plans. It’s been a long time coming, I knew I had to face the public sooner or later. —- Leo was just finishing with his training when we reached him in the training area. My best friend, looked visibly exhausted from a long training session. It was also obvious from the look on his face, he was determined to see this through, and he was happy with the results he’s been seeing so far. I could sense that Leo’s fire based attacks are hotter and stronger and have more energy than before, he’s certainly improving at a phenomenal speed. Seeing Leo conjure a fire ball with ease made me proud of him, I know how hard he has worked to reach that level of proficiency. I’m sure in no time he’ll be able to materialize arrows and whips of flames as well. “Wow Leo, that was good!” I cheerfully said as Leo approached us after his session. “You’re just saying that,” “No no, I swear you’re really getting better.” “Honest?” “Yeah, absolutely!” Leo smiled and replied, “thanks, I’m really trying hard you know.” “The results are showing buddy,” my uncle chimed in, with a proud smile of his own. “Leo, before you and William, we’ve never had any records of humans having elemental skills, this is really something,” Yal said. “Well, I guess we owe it to Chris,” Leo said as he smiled at me. “Huh, why me?” “Don’t tell me you don’t have anything to do with me and your dad suddenly gaining powers, I think the common denominator with all this groundbreaking stuff is you Chris,” Leo replied. “Uhh,uhm,” I stammered. “No need to be humble or polite about it, if anything, I’m glad to know my powers come from you,” “Leo, your power is yours, and yours only,” I replied. “Whatever, you’re still in denial,” Leo teased. —- We made it back in Greensburg just in time for dinner. Victor joined us for the meal, however Leo and August were both absent as they had a date. We tried to avoid discussing demons and our jobs over dinner and instead focused on other stuff, like Etalos and Nomir’s love life, hehe. My bodyguard kept a tight lip, while Etalos couldn’t help but blush and squirm in his seat, as Yal and Victor did their best to find out if he had any love interest. “Come on dude! You’re a cute guy, don’t tell me there’s no one!” I exclaimed. “Uhm, Sorry, can’t say,” Etalos replied just above a whisper. “I don’t believe you, I think there’s a special someone but you’re just not sharing,” I teased. Dinner ended with both my assistant and bodyguard, not budging a single inch regarding their love life, I super swear I’ll get it out of them soon! Oh, I’m so tempted to just grab the information from their minds but where’s the fun in that? —- We were gathered in the living room watching a movie when I started feeling sick. I excused myself to go to my bedroom to rest. “Everything alright Chris?” Victor asked as he noticed my discomfort. “Yeah, I’m fine, probably just tired.” “I’ll join you, in your room. I’ll keep you company,” Victor said, with a hint of worry in his voice. I didn’t decline and allowed Victor to cuddle with me as I fell asleep. The sun was brightly shining in the sky, as I found myself in the middle of a grassy field. The air felt crisp against my skin, the place, although beautiful was eerily quiet. A moment passed, with a blink of an eye, I found myself staring at a mirror image of myself. “Glad you could come visit,” the other me said. His voice different from my own, his tone filled with vitriol and anger. “Who are you?” “Forgotten me so soon?” My mirror self, smirked at me. “Where am I?” “Questions, questions, tsk, tsk,” the guy spat, as he slowly approached me. I did not feel that I was in any danger but I felt confused and uncomfortable with my circumstance. “Don’t come any closer,” I forcefully said. “Why?” The guy said, he cocked his head, as if to challenge my command. “I don’t even know you, I don’t even know what you are,” I replied. “Oh, dear boy, must I remind you?” The guy sneered. The grass field was immediately engulfed in a sea of purple flames and the eyes of my other self, turned bright purple. “Yonthar?” I asked. “Bingo!” The guy said, as he continued his slow approach to me. “I know you can’t hurt me, I’ve already defeated you,” I said. “Who said anything about hurting you?” He smiled. “What do you want?” “Everything...” he replied, with a sinister and hauntingly disturbing smile. “Huh?” “Christopher Stewart Rogers beyn Haldruin, tsk tsk tsk, you may have defeated me, but do you have it in you to absorb several more demon generals?” Yonthar asked as the purple flames around us grew larger, the clear blue sky turned bright red as well. Yonthar stepped closer and placed a finger on my chest, as if to poke me. “You my boy, you’ve done the unthinkable, but how long do you think your luck will last?” He asked. The ground around us started to shake and crack, as the grassy field was filled with a malevolent presence. The haunting energy, full of spite and anger, consumed the entire field. “All of this is inside you, how long can you hold it in?” Yonthar asked, as he raised a single eyebrow at me. Purple fire serpents wrapped themselves around Yonthar, as the demon general continued to stare at me. “I shall, patiently await your fall into depravity,” Yonthar said with a smile, and just like that, he vanished and I was left alone in the field. The demon remove is presence, nowhere to be found, and the bright blue sky returning to its full glory. “Chris! Chris! Wake up!” I heard as I opened my eyes. “Huh?” I said. “I looked around, to the worried faces of my boyfriend, uncle, and Yal. “What happened?” I asked. “Chris, are you okay?” Victor asked as tears streamed from his eyes, my boyfriend couldn’t help but hug me tight. “Uhh, yeah I’m fine.” I replied with a raspy voice. I raised my hand to return Victor’s hug, that’s when I saw my arms covered in streaks of bright purple veins. My entire body was covered in pulsing streaks of purple energy. “What happened?” I asked again. Victor pulled away from our hug, looked at me straight in the eyes, he gave me a light peck on the lips and then answered, “you fell asleep, then suddenly you started releasing waves and waves of aura, the entire neighborhood, if not all of Greensburg is flooded by you energy right now,” “Uhm, I didn’t mean to, I don’t know what happened. How long was I out?” “Just a few minutes,” Victor replied. Without warning, I spontaneously burst into purple flames. Victor jumped away from me, but it seemed that the flames didn’t carry any heat with them. My room was filled with bright purple light, and I felt my body releasing wave upon wave of energy. “What’s happening now?” Yal asked my uncle. “I don’t know, Chris, can you control it?” My uncle asked. “Let me try,” I replied. I closed my eyes and reeled in my energy. I felt my chains and made them wrap themselves around the energy I was releasing. From a distance, I could hear the rusting of the chains as they moved and adjusted, moments later I felt something click within me. I opened my eyes and everything was back to normal. No purple flames, and no leakage of energy. “Chris?” My uncle nervously asked. “Yeah?” I asked. “Your eyes,” he directed my gaze to the nearby mirror. I looked at myself in the mirror, my eyes were still brightly flashing purple. I called upon the chains again, after a deep breath, I opened my eyes, then I saw my blue eyes staring back at myself. “Fuck,” I muttered. “What the hell was that?” Yal asked. “I don’t know, but I’m fairly certain it’s something major,” my uncle replied. “I’ll ask Kalron if the energy sensors picked anything from what happened,” Yal said. “Are you feeling better Chris?” Victor asked. “Yeah,” I replied, with a faint smile on my face.
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