MYTHLANDE TALESThis was one of the first Mythlande stories I wrote. It is when I began figuring out the actual size and scope of the Six Realm.
by Kit Gaumé
The Mortal Plains—E’arth, O'ctal: Planet Faraddy
The bounty hunter’s mood was rather grim. It matched the bloody spectacle spread across the desolate landscape. Bodies were strewn across the ground, many missing limbs. All the victims were wearing hideous masks on their severely damaged heads. It was a mess that few would want to observe, let alone be taking vid vids of. The depravity and destruction were beyond sickening.
The lone man taking in this horror spit in disgust then growled. Scaly beasts the size of large dogs were carrying off bodies and fighting over remains. The squawking birds would swoop in, peck the goo, then fly off again. The maelstrom buzz of carrion eaters and large yellow flies was nauseating.
His black leather sleeves that covered his muscled arms lit up with purple hints of the Mind Essence. He was a Twyster, one of the magic practitioners the Fae called the Cier Anon—a Thre'shyr. A vaporous mist flowed over the ground like little banks of hungry fog. It was the Death’s Embrace Twyst. Wherever the cloud went, the gorging creatures would flee from it, abandoning their gruesome meals.
The mangled corpses began to dissolve like steam from a cup of tea. In moments the scenes of grisly death were gone; even the blood-splattered rocks were clean from the taint that had been there moments ago. Kry raised his hands and formed another Twyst; it was the Hunters Twyst. A magic spell began to develop and take shape. It almost seemed to be alive with its cloud-like movement. It rose and lifted into the air. It spun, probing here and there, and then finally a tendril pointed toward some mountains. The Twyst slowly began to move in that direction, then stopped, waiting patiently for its creator.
The dark-haired man pulled out a felt sack from his well-used backpack. Five spheres were inside— they were called Enurii, used only by the Royal Houses of the Vagari. Kry carefully removed the high-tech devices and initiated their functions. It was a risk using these; the one’s he followed may have technological monitoring. But better to use the tools than being blinded by a surprise visit.
The small satellite devices lifted high into the air; one sphere would hover directly above him, and the other four would rotate around the center one. They would give him constant surveillance within a twenty thousand span circumference. The quarry he was after was beyond dangerous and predictable. They were most probably insane. They had ravaged three small communities already on this rotating rock. The Planet Faraddy was off the beaten track for most Realmers, even though it was in the E’arth O’ctal. Kry would use whatever he needed to hunt these killers down, magic, high tech, luck, … whatever it took, he needed to stop them here.
The criminal scums were Seventh Klaw, at the very least. Trying to reason with this type of foulness was like arguing with the wind for blowing dust. The bounty contract was Dead or Alive. Dead was the safest way.
Only a few would attempt to bring back the foul Gerada Brothers by themselves. Some of the Realm Marshalls, and Kry. Of course, the ArQai named Vaal would probably do the job for free and with his bare hands, but not everyone had his particular skillset. Kry missed his old winged friend, mentor, and once proud leader of all the CodeXin. Technically, Vaal still was the X-Mark. It was just one of many great titles he once wore. But that title of X-Mark was almost a myth now. The Bounty Hunters had once been eight cohesive groups united as one; now, they were bare skeletons of what they were. Oh, the CodeXin still existed but had splintered over time. "We need strong leadership again, but maybe our time has passed," Kry uttered in distaste.
“Peace be with you, Vaal, may you find the calm you're searching for,” he stated respectfully.
Being good with magic was a curse and a blessing sometimes. The demented brothers he chased today were from human stock, absent any humanity. They seemed to take great delight in harming others. The bounty reward was extremely high for that reason.
Two other bounty hunters from Kry's CodeXin had perished over on the Wetton planet a couple weeks back. That was when Kry had finally decided to take the job. What the three brothers had done to his young comrades was beyond vile. These rookie hunters were only Fifth Blade and very inexperienced. Even with all the gadgets at their disposal, this technology was not enough to prevent their gruesome deaths.
Kry was surprised a Realm Marshall hadn’t been sent at that point. They most certainly would have if Kry and some others hadn’t taken the job. The seasoned bounty hunter had been a Blade Master now for many millennia. The ones he now hunted were similar to him, except the Gerada Brothers were Dennyn, very long-lived beings like himself, but not immortal by any means.
The three brothers were once well known and highly skilled healers in the Th'rae O’ctal of Te’ir Huud. All had been exceptional, Tira’Dinn. They used the Tear Essences and could heal most ailments and curses. Something happened to them, though; the file on them suggested they began using bluud in their potions to make what they created more powerful, but this process always distorts the Hona Coire user in the end, and then they can only touch the Mala Coire. Now, they were nothing more than tainted Aga Drul.
First, reports came in that small children were disappearing, then gruesomely mutilated corpses started showing up. Bizarre masks were placed on each victim, marking them as a grotesque trophy. The council at Th’rae believed the atrocities had been going on for nearly two decades undetected, but before the brothers could be apprehended, they disappeared. It had taken over seven years for Raen'jirs to relocate them again. The same trail of bodies with the same type of grotesque masks and symbology.
The Mho Biis De’fendyrs had placed the bounty very, very high. Kry’s Bound X CodeXin accepted the bid, other CodeXin groups had as well. Kry looked up into the yellowish sky; his floating Enurii were in place, the hologram glowed around his synaptic link. There was nothing on the sensors larger than a knee-high rodent. This planet was a low tech level world. No high technology existed here yet. It was also not close to the Variant Lines, so Skraens were uncommon, and magic was stronger. The locals here were smaller than most human types; many were just rudimentary farmers trying to survive their day-to-day existence the best they could. He would avoid them if possible; he did not want to harm any of them just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The bounty hunter would walk. The ones he chased did not know they were being followed, and he wanted to keep it that way. The sun was sizzling hot, and the large boulders seemed to make it even warmer. Sweat stained the man’s back, but he refrained from using unnecessary magic to stay cool.
The ones being hunted were not worried about being tracked. They left a trail of death and carnage. The sky ahead was filled with feathered vermin fighting over gross morsels. The next body Kry found was some type of grazing animal, these Skrachers killed for the thrill. The bounty hunter followed his quarry more determined; their contempt for life was sickening, ending these traitors' existence was a goal he accepted with intense pleasure. He marched on to reap vengeance.
The clothing he wore marked him as a bounty hunter, only because he was almost impossible to see. Light reflected off the fabric of his loose-fitting clothes in such a way that made him appear invisible to casual inspection. It wasn’t magic, but high tech. His exoskeleton leg attachments propelled him quickly on his way. After about three hours, Kry stopped.
His Hunter Twyst still pointed toward the mountains, but the trail on the ground had disappeared. The brothers were using Zlips now, quick magical doorways to travel short distances. They usually only worked for a line of sight or if you had been someplace before. Zlips also required a lot of energy. The Hunter waved his hand, and the Enurii flew back to him and hovered. He opened a Thre'sh, purple rings appeared revealing a doorway to more landscape just like he was in now. The Vagari stepped through, followed by his little flying sentinels. He created another Hunter Twyst, and when his floating orbs were in position, he started tracking again.
After about five more hours, the Enurii detected thick clouds of black smoke from a rise in the distance. It made the hard man wince. I need to get this ryyn spawn quick, or there won’t be anyone left alive on this damn planet!
The rocky terrain had now changed to a strange forest of chest-high scraggly trees. Kry sent the Enurii in a broader pattern, and shortly the grisly scenes of death came into focus in the hologram. The burning remains of a small village; everything was smoldering, and thick smoke still was climbing its way to the sky. What was more important was that two of the three brothers were sitting on some scavenged chairs, utterly unconcerned about the carnage around them. Bodies were piled behind them, and the makeshift fire pit was filled with body parts. A large pot was boiling— something human. The bounty hunter stopped. He needed to know where the third brother was before he planned any action. The nearly invisible hunter would wait. Kry was troubled, he could not put his finger on it yet, but something was amiss.
He could not help the unfortunate victims here, but hopefully, he could prevent another bloody massacre. Time went slowly by, and still no signs. I have been so busy following this ilk that I have not reasoned out how they got here to this planet in the first place. There are more than three. They must have a pun’chyr or some Mind Essence ally.
A tingle went up Kry’s spine, enough to alert the Twyster to defend himself. The attack was sudden and formidable. A forcefield struck the Vagari from behind. He lessened the impact with an Absorption Twyst and counter-attacked brutally with a Mind Vise Twyst. The spell grabbed the attacker and threw her onto the rocky ground. Kry unleashed a Fortress Twyst now to protect himself until he could see what else was going on.
The missing third brother was grinning amused, not concerned at all that his companion lay convulsing on the ground. The Tira’Dinn kept approaching, stepping closer. Something on the murderer's boots flared with white light, and something struck Kry with a toxic Skrach.
It was a poisonous vapor that removed oxygen from the air and replaced it with a neurotoxin that could paralyze the victim. Kry countered quickly, the toxic cloud was sucked into a swirling hole in the sky. Then he launched an all-out Bhen’dyr attack against the corrupt fellow's mind. The Gerada Brother seemed surprised as he collapsed to the ground to join his compatriot; his sarcastic grin changed to wide-mouthed surprise.
Kry’s counter-attack was very useful. The bounty hunter did not hesitate; he erased every thought the monster had ever created. The pitiless marauder was now a mindless drooling cretin unless Kry chose to restore him. Very doubtful considering the bounty hunter’s current mood.
His attention went to the woman. He studied her face carefully, looking for the tattoo marks of the Nah Dihn, but there were no markings he could discern. If she wasn’t a Pun’chyr, what was she?
Kry asked her a question, “I know you can hear me, even through this pain. Do you want to talk civilly or remain under this painful Twyst?”
The woman nodded her head. Her forehead was sweating profusely, and her eyes looked like they wanted to jump from her skull. The spell dissipated, but Kry left an anchor point on the Twyst in case she developed any wrong ideas. She instantly had a moronic moment. The woman was yanked into the air, this time bound with a variation of the Fortress Twyst. She was hung upside down. Now the prisoner started to pant like a rabid dog. Her eyes were rolling in absolute rage. She fought her floating prison with everything she had, and the bounty hunter let her. In about a hundred ticks, she was utterly spent.
The man flicked his wrist, and the woman fell hard to the ground; he did not care if the hag broke bones, “Are you ready to be polite yet, butcher? You will answer my questions freely, or you will end up like your vacuous friend,” he pointed.
It had finally dawned on her that this man in the strange clothes was not to be taken lightly, and right off, she began lying about how she was forced to do the things she did. This time Kry wasn’t as gentle. He almost literally crushed her bones. “Lie to me again, and our delightful chats are over.”
He released her, and she just sat there gasping for air. She glared at the bounty hunter like a feral cat studying a rat, waiting for the right moment to pounce. The vile woman also knew her life was in this man’s hands if she messed up.
Still not makin’ it easy for him, she thought.
The man smiled at her and shook his head; she now understood she was at the mercy of a Bhen’dyr as well, and a good one; she clamped her mind down to prevent more meddling.
Soiquee was not weak in the Mala Coire, and this man demolished him with barely any effort. He was the strongest of the three brothers too. It was going to be a short evening unless she could give this bounty hunter something of value.
His first question was, “How did you know I was here?”
She laughed, “You think you are the only one with fancy toys. We knew you were here as soon as you turned on your personal satellites. I warned these louts you were more dangerous than those other two losers sent out. But what do I know?”
His second question: “Are you off the leash of the Nakaroo or a rogue?”
“I am like you—attached to whom I please. Unlike you, I use the Hona or Mala as I choose, but I will say the Hona Coire Essences do not always appeal to me, and the Mala Coire Essences don’t always create the best doorways.”
The woman touched a brilliant white crystal hanging on her necklace. The attack was very subtle and genius in its simplicity, and if not for a particular rune on Kry’s wrist, it would have been successful. The man pretended the sleep spell worked and yawned, and began to shut his eyes. She immediately struck with a Final Death Skrach.
The man opened his eyes; they were as cold as death. He froze her mind. She became as rigid as an oak board at Solman’s woodshop back home. The only thing moving was her fearful eyes.
Kry ran his hand through his thick black hair and stated without pity, “I will just take the memories I need.” he yanked the necklace off her neck and stuck it in his pocket, then drained her mind of memories; there were many troubling things there.
This woman had been through tragedies no living person should have to endure, but she then did things to others that made her own pains seem trivial. She was a beast. A pitiless creature that ate the heart out of a living child and did not regret doing so.
He wanted to crush her into oblivion. But he also found something else. These four vermin were just the tip of the lance. His fellow bounty hunters had been sold out on Wetton; these death worshipers had known they were coming and set a trap.
Kry now realized that he had been set-up as well. They knew the moment he took the contract and when he arrived on the planet. There was a contingent of these foul creatures in many of the high places in the Six Realms. It was nauseating to see these memories; it repulsed him to his limit. The wench had the empathy of a rabid beast. Kry killed her and her compatriot with no remorse. He felt like slime from the dankest ryyn pits from seeing the filth in her mind.
The man removed all evidence that he had been there. Kry turned and opened a Thre'sh to the fire pit—the two were still sitting there. The bounty hunter did not stop to chat; he obliterated them into a million cinder pieces, then burned it into ash. There was no compassion; he used violence to destroy a plague; that was all. Kry carefully removed all traces of the brutality around him; when satisfied there were no clues left behind, he exited the planet to go to a secure location. Kry needed to talk to someone he trusted. He now knew his own CodeXin group was compromised by this secret Death Society, and her foul memories exposed three from this secret cult. Two high-ranking members of his own CodeXin and someone in the High House of the ArQai Royalty was involved in this sadistic cult called the Chyrpa.
The Bounty Hunter would forgo collecting any reward and just state that he took another contract. Kry could not let anyone know he had seen or had ever interacted with these vicious killers.
The traitors in his CodeXin would pay a considerable price for their treason against humanity. Kry would make them regret every breath they stole from others. The hunter knew he needed help with the ArQai Royal; it was not his place to exact revenge there. This ArQai was well positioned in the ArQaix ruling class. The bounty hunter needed counsel; he needed an old comrade, the ArQai Inspector, named Odz.
The Circolian Ring—E’arth, O'ctal: Feshena District
Odz was sitting in his favorite chair by the fire when Niner jumped on the armrest and handed the great Li’fyr a note.
The small rotund companion reported, “Your wooden dragon pal was making quite the fuss your magicalness. Seems that someone sent a messenger with a message. But was afraid to knock on the door because Splyndarian was busy shooting flames at the poor visitor.”
Odz opened the sealed note. It had the symbol of the Bound X CodeXin.
“Bounty Hunters? Kry?”He wondered aloud.
The Hi'dyn read the note. It was short: “I would like to buy you a cup of coffee, my friend. Just think the name of the place and when you can be there, then tap the note. I will be there post haste, Kry.”
“Bounty Hunters? Kry?”He wondered aloud.
The Hi'dyn read the note. It was short: “I would like to buy you a cup of coffee, my friend. Just think the name of the place and when you can be there, then tap the note. I will be there post haste, Kry.”
“Outstanding. Some calamity to speak about over coffee sounds like my type of adventure.” He thought for a moment, then tapped the note. A purple flame appeared, and the invitation disappeared. Odz got out of his chair, stretched his wings briefly, and then put on his favorite hat. He grabbed his magical golf club and asked if Niner wanted to come along.
The golf ball man smiled and adjusted his small hat, “Of course. Someone needs to be there to keep you out of the rough.”
Odz went out his front door and asked Splyndarian, "What did you encounter that required flames?"
The dragon hung his head dejectedly and responded, “Robots are so rude Honorable One. When I asked who the message was from, it just kept repeating, ‘The man that paid for my new bearings lizard-breath’ That is all that metallic idiot would say. Lizard-breath! It made me so angry. Then Niner showed up acting like he is in charge of security and took the note. The robot made a rude gesture and left. I was going to announce the message myself, but Niner just took it and slammed the door.”
The Hi’dyn studied his wooden dragon friend a moment then said encouragingly, “My dear Splyndarian, you do an excellent job, and I wouldn't know what to do without you. You are no lowly lizard. You are a kingly dragon made from the oldest sacred oak.”
The carved dragon lifted his polished head and almost purred like a cat, then he glared menacingly at Niner, who was standing on Odz’s collar. The little round ball took off his hat and offered an apology. “I am so sorry, Splyndarian, I was wrong; hopefully, I can make it up to you, my dragony pal. We are going to our favorite place; I will make sure and get your favorite candy—twisty sticks!”
Splyndarian uttered in surprise, “I love their Fire Cinnamon Twisty Sticks the best. Thank you, Niner.”
Then the smiling dragon merged back into the forest carving on the large door singing some confectionary theme song:
There is a place called Cinnamon Land
Where all the beaches are candy sand
Magic taste and delicious places
Where fancy shoes have taffy laces
And the suns melted...
Niner actually wanted to hear the rest; he had no idea that his carved friend had such a beautiful voice. But the ArQai had pulled the door shut and had headed down the hall.
Odz picked his favorite coffee place nearby, Walyce’s Herb and Toad Shop and Specialty Bean Emporium. Two excellent shops in one location with plenty of privacy. The Hi’dyn sent a quick message of his own that contained a spell. Something to keep prying eyes away from his meeting. After a short walk, they arrived.
The dark-haired Mydherii lady had a touch of gray and was barely visible behind the counter. The Barista was not the tallest tree in the orchard for sure, but her coffees had mountains of delicious flavor in each cup. She was also a trusted informant. Gyhth was a rare Hona Coire user of her race. She needed protection from the Nakaroo, and Odz had set her up here.
The Mydherii smiled warmly, “You were right, Aji Trin, your Privacy Twyst overcame anyone's desire for my best-brewed coffees, several regulars stopped by and forgot why they were here; no one has purchased anything in the last half hour. My coffee shop’s reputation will be ruined for sure.” She laughed, and her eyes shined with humor. “Walyce escorted a Vagari gentleman to a private study in the back. He has sealed the area; it should be secure. I think Walyce liked getting back into the game a little.” she smiled and winked.
Niner looked at Odz, “I better stay here at the counter. I think maybe tasting unhealthy cakes and sipping coffee samples might be the best help I can give right now, boss.”
Gyhth said, “We have gotten some new coffee beans, Niner, plus some new flavors of Twisty Sticks I think you and Splyndarian will just love. Let me help Odz first, then I will be right back.”
She led Odz to the secluded darkroom in the back. Even Odz was surprised when a man’s voice interrupted from the blackness.
“Excuse my clandestine manners, Honorable One. I have not seen you in many years, and then I intrude with a request for immediate help. I believe the last time we worked together was during an investigation on the Hradin planet over in Ar’het. I recall something you said there, ‘Those seven witches don’t deserve a trickle of water unless it is used for their slow drowning.’ I have had that line stuck in my head forever—”
Odz interrupted before he finished, “—Such evil they possessed and flaunted, I could feel and smell the rot around them at one hundred spans. Sorry, Kry, please continue.”
Kry nodded, smiling, then he rubbed his chin before continuing, “After seeing their disgusting memories, I needed three months away, distilling my brain with Rolstoman Rum in the Kirinian. Anyway, you were the only one that I knew of that would understand what I have to say, does the word Ch—”
“Stop! Do not speak that word, my friend!” commanded Odz forcefully while holding out his hand up to forestall any more talk. “Even saying that foulness alerts these wretched creatures that someone is aware of them. Never say it aloud. Never whisper it. Yes! They are despicable, beyond insanity and madness, and you were right to seek my help.”
Powerful white light emitted from Odz’s hands. A solid cocoon of energy enveloped them, “Tell me everything, and I caution you, continue without saying that word because I know it well.”
Kry related everything he discovered. The ritual killings, strange trophy masks, horrific tortures, grisly murders, slow sacrificial rites used on living people, the betrayals that led to his fellow bounty hunters killed. He also discussed what he saw in the woman’s mind and sent the images of the three people he memorized.
Odz’s hidden face emitted a surprised grunt, and he snapped his wings in dismay, and then he whispered sadly, “No? No!? Even him? No! This information is heart-wrenching. This malicious group has hidden in the dark for too many millennia. I have wondered about this particular ArQai’s behavior on several occasions. But would have never connected him to these foul monsters. These bullies that harm the weak and hide behind titles. It never seems to end, my friend.
Kry, I do remember the work you did to bring those seven despicable witches off the streets. Vaal was very impressed when I relayed the story. In fact, Vaal mentioned you the last time I saw him; he wanted you to have this.”
Odz snapped his fingers then handed over a large gold ring with eight X rune symbols in a circular pattern around a large Hona Coire emblem in the center. The bounty hunter seemed shocked and grinned, but closed his hand and would not take it.
The Hi’dyn grabbed the bounty hunter’s hand firmly and placed the ancient ring into Kry’s reluctant palm. Vaal said you deserved this more than he. All of the CodeXins need to unite as one again. The X Seal Ring will help you repair what Vaal has broken. With these two renegade bounty hunters exposed, it will probably lead to more. Someone to heal the rift will be needed. You are a leader Kry, even though you don’t want to bear that yoke."
Kry shook his head, unbelieving, “How long have you had this? Have you visited with Vaal lately then Honorable Hi’dyn?”
Odz waved his hand, “Yes. Relatively recently, about four months ago. I was visiting with Stryke at the Kirinian Reliq storage grounds, investigating reliquii items being black marketed, a never-ending story, it seems. Vaal showed up with Patch—unannounced, of course. I sent this important message to your Bound X CodeXin as soon as Vaal left. I received no reply back, so I held onto the ring for safekeeping. I should have tried again to contact you.”
Kry nodded, “I have been busy of late as well, and no one relaid this news to me. Probably the message was hushed until I return to the Master’s Hall. Vaal has a Mho Biis warrant for his arrest, but no CodeXin group will hunt him. He is the only X Mark we have known, though his long absence has splintered us like an ax. It is not right that the Orakann coward's crushed his soul and wants his life as well. My heart will never pump as much honor in my lifetime as Vaal’s pumps in a single moment. There is still integrity in the Realms if Patch, Stryke, and Odz allowed Vaal to run free—that will be a powerful story I will keep to myself. The Hi’dyn protect their own, and Vaal always protected the CodeXin. We will always have his back, even though he strays.”
Odz nodded, “His stance against the Orakann has not changed, and his vigilante method has ruffled many egos in high places. Hopefully, one day, he will come to realize that duty does not care about personal feelings. I understand his right to be angry, though, and I miss his pure heart immensely. But even his tremendous power is not enough against this ArQai traitor; this needs a delicate touch, not a Hammyr. I would not turn down his help though he offered; this new treachery might lead to other places unclean. I think many, many hearts will be broken.” Odz grimaced under his swirling unseen face, and Kry smiled back in understanding.
The Bounty Hunter clenched the X Seal Ring in his fist, “So what is the next move Hi’dyn? Should we wait 'til the Gerada Brothers become just a forgotten memory then proceed?”
The ArQai Investigator shook his head slowly, “No, Yeril’loton sits on the ArQai Royal Council. This friend of many—needs to be removed quickly. He has the Queen’s ear, of course, and is privy to secrets of the Highest Courts. I have had dealings with this charismatic fellow many times. He is powerful and is connected to many of the highest ArQai royalty. The purest bloodlines run through his veins. Vaal wanted him arrested during the Rip War for dereliction of duty; after the Military Hearing, Yeril’loton was sent to a new Command but kept his rank. Vaal would never tell me what it was about, and the official records were sealed by the King’s Order. There were many that thought Yeril’loton should have become the Kann instead of Di’allonin. Praise the Two Suns that didn’t happen. He is a powerful Wi’shyr, and it seems his bright smile is just an illusion of a Hex’yr. Unfortunately, your Memory Twyst is not allowed in the ArQaix Court. I will need physical proof and witnesses.”
The Vagari sighed, “Yeril’loton is just one of many probably. How many others of this dark stain lurk in the shadows, and who is pulling strings? I always felt that the Kha’lor slaver Slahrgat was running these types of filth gangs, but knowing an esteemed ArQai is involved—shatters me to the core. How could this stay hidden? How can a Mala Coire user remain unseen and for so long? It makes no sense. Wait a moment—I just remembered something the Pun’chyr said. She implied she could use the Hona or the Mala Coire at will. This seems impossible. The hag attacked me and almost succeeded; I think it was her necklace that held the spell she used.” Kry pulled out the jewelry so Odz could study it.
The Hi’dyn knew what it was in an instant. It was a Po’ol Stone. A type of crystal that could store spells like a lake holds fish. Few knew how they were crafted, but these stones can befuddle magic in its raw form. The secret of these stones was well guarded, a mystery Odz wished he knew more about. Even a bladeless could use them. Now, Odz recalled a memory of Yeril’loton at a party honoring the Queen. He possessed one of these stones; he wore it on a gaudy earring in his left ear. Is this stone the clue that's needed? I will study it when I see Yeril’loton. Odz thought
Odz placed his hand on the bounty hunter's shoulder. “This news breaks me asunder as well, Kry. You have discovered a shadow so blighted that a million suns may not pierce its darkness. Uncovering the Po’ol Stone connection is a start, though; it may be the key needed to unlock this vault of corruption. Do you remember seeing a stone like this on your two rogue bounty hunters or on the brothers? On a knife hilt perhaps or hatband—anything?
Kry thought back, and it hit him, “Riil has white stones on his belt, and Thro has a pinky ring he constantly fiddles with. It is the same white stone, I’m positive. The Gerada Brothers boots had strange markings and shiny baubles on their bootstraps. When I was attacked by the oldest brother, the Skrach he launched was from his boot, he is an Aga Drul, but the Essence he used was a piercing white glow; it looked more like your Soul Essence Honorable One and not the green light associated with the Tear Essences. But how can they hide the stench of the Mala Coire? ”
Odz massaged his invisible chin a moment, “This Po’ol Stone may help us unravel this cloaked sickness. How a Mala Coire user can go undetected is something that needs to be solved. These stones must be able to filter the ones submitting to the Coire. A blending of all colors of the Essences to make something appear as pure white. Your two bounty hunters should reek of the Mala Coire, but I am sure they do not. Even a Gli’myr’s talent may not see this deception. Somehow this crystal is the connection these murderers have in common. I believe it will help me present the proof I need to the Queen. We are chefs stirring a ryyn pot, hoping that—it will taste like honey. You must muster all members of the Eight CodeXins to the Master's Hall, even if you have to drag every last one of them by the heels of their boots. Your first task as the X-Mark may be the hardest thing you ever do. Your new ring has power; it is a Klaen’ked token that detects honesty or falsehood in the soul itself. Those that are faithful to the CodeXin will kiss the ring without hesitation. Those that do not—”
Kry interrupted this time and said sadly, “—will be kissed by the blades of death.”
Odz nodded slowly and exhaled deeply, “I will have to figure out how to tell Queen Dasaerin that her favorite nephew is tainted beyond saving. She dotes on him. I may not survive the tongue-lashing that will rend my flesh or the wringing-of-hands that may crush my neck.”
Kry nodded solemnly, “We both face a daunting responsibility; the Eight CodeXins have been rudderless a long time. Honor has drifted far; it may not find its way to port easily. Good luck, my old friend. I will stay in touch. I will leave from here. The Vagari stood, drinking down the last of his coffee, then he shook Odzs’ forearm with a firm grip. Purple rings lit up the room, and the new X-Mark stepped into a forested landscape. The Thre'sh closed and dissipated behind him, leaving Odz thinking in the dark: another ArQai betrayal, another dagger in the heart of trust.
The EndMythlande Tale - Written by HIM
Head Imagination Miscreant,
©Kit Gaumé 2013 to Present