“Girls? What are you doing here?” Zemi asked, realizing instantly that he wasn’t alone upon arriving at the Host Gate.
-We could ask you the same thing,- Zazo gave a thin, wolfish grin.
Not very far away, the small bird-form of Zeni perched on an outcropping of stone. The tiny beaded eyes observed her brother’s appearance with something akin to warm welcome. Tiny peep-like sounds issued forth in a repeated chirp: -Zemizemizemizemizemi!-
He expected the Host Gate would stand void and vacant after the tear in the dimensional fabric allowed the Arweinydd to step into the world of the physical. Instead, he found himself greeted by his two younger sisters, Zazo and Zeni.
It seemed that neither of his sisters had yet discovered the way to take on a true physical form, which was probably for the better considering what their other brother was doing with that sort of knowledge. Much like Zemi once did, the two Arweinydd had manifested into spectral creatures, ones that seemed to reflect something of their innate potential personas.
Zazo, the eldest of the two sisters, was a large, sharp-faced she-wolf. There was a sense of cunning and control, power and pride, and a certain amount of hidden aggression seething behind the speckled light of her eyes. Even the chill wind seemed unable to ruffle the graceful flow of her fur where it glowed with an otherworldly sheen.
A more delicate creature of great intelligence and potential curiosity, Zeni had taken on the form of a small, bright-eyed bird. Always one to look up to Zemi as a mentor in attempt to follow his big-brotherly example, she was the one that he was least surprised to see there.
-So, old Dragon, what have you gotten yourself into this time?- Zazo’s jaws opened with a lolling pant that seemed both playful and chiding.
-Is it true that you’ve become Rhoi’r? Is it true? Can it be? Really, Zemi?- Zeni hopped forward with a few short bounds, coming to alight on his shoulder.
The Dreigiau gave a long-suffering sigh and nodded. “Yes, beloved. You have heard right. Things aren’t quite going as I would have wanted them to.”
-When do they ever, Zemi?- the she-wolf gave a yawn.
“You never give me a break do you?”
Zemi gave a low frown and peered around the long-discarded cave. It seemed as if no one had been there in a very long time. The stone of the main entrance showed the lack of care that the Apprentices once showered on the little cave. The floor had grown gritty and cold with lack of use and the passing of the Dreigiau’s presence from within the depths, a sign that no Apprentices came there after the School was invaded by Zerom’s presence.
Only the two Arweinydd were there. But why they chose to remain there, he didn’t know.
“So now that you know that I’m Rhoi’r for sure, what are you still doing here?”
-You think you’re going to get rid of us that easily, Zemi?-
Zeni added, -We’re here because we sense great trouble within the nearby Earthian establishment.-
“Yes, it’s Zerom,” the Dreigiau murmured grimly. He ran the fingers of one hand through the wild wisps of mane, an unnoticed habit he had picked up from watching Zento.
-He’s up to his nonsense again?- Zazo snuffed, shaking her head.
“It’s more than just nonsense. I’m really afraid for him at this point,” Zemi turned with a dismal frown. “I have reason to believe that Zerom is getting in way over his head… and that Chaos may be beginning to taint him.”
-How do you know?- Zeni peeped.
“Something has been really off with him ever since he chose to follow me into this dimension,” the Dreigiau explained. He spread his hands wide with a frown, “He’s been altering some of the Earthians, and the results of this have not been pretty.”
-Yes, we have seen the creatures of his making. Pitiful things.- Zazo noted with little sympathy in her voice. Just factual unconcern.
Something about it grated on Zemi’s nerves, even though he knew it wasn’t really her fault. Despite their efforts to be there, Zazo and Zeni really didn’t understand the way of the Earthians yet. Much the same way that Zerom didn’t.
He also knew it wasn’t going to be easy to state his case here. Even though his sisters were listening to his explanation, it was true that Zemi was just as guilty of a number of the complaints that he would raise against their brother. However, if he could get Zazo and Zeni to understand and to side with him on the issue, he might have a much better chance to face their brother and contain him before Zerom became so lost in darkness that he could not be redeemed.
“Zerom also seeks to acquire and gain control over the son of my Myfyriwr. It was through this that word came to me that Zerom’s methods may be leading him towards the Chaos,” the Dreigiau continued.
Zazo gave an indelicate sound, -Zemi, Zemi, Zemi… are you still playing with your little dolls? What have we told you about the Earthians time and again? They aren’t worth so much fuss that you make of them!-
-I think they’re rather cute,- Zeni offered.
Ears pinned back, Zazo showed her fangs, -Of course YOU would.-
Zemi pursed his lips, hard pressed to keep his defensive thoughts to himself. “Regardless of that, the point stands that Zerom seeks to take these creatures against their will and use them for his own ends.”
-Is that not what you do?-
“No. I don’t,” the Dreigiau’s eyes suddenly glinted fiercely, a sharp warning at the eldest sister.
-Alright, alright. Don’t get so heated.- Zazo flicked her tail back and forth. -These Earthian emotions really do get the best of you, Zemi. You should see yourself sometime.-
-I think it’s pretty funny,- Zeni offered.
-Did anyone ask you?-
-No? But I still think so!- the bird cheeped cheerfully.
“Girls?” Zemi lifted both hands, waving them to silence. When he had their attention, he shook his head, “That is not all of it, by far…”
-Okay. What else is there?-
The Dreigiau leaned back, his shoulder to one wall, and turned his face away. Somehow, he wasn’t sure how he was going to break this sort of news to his sisters. And even when he did, he wasn’t sure if they would understand the danger that he spoke of.
-Zemi?- Zeni peeped encouragingly. -Zemizemizemizemizemi?-
“If my sources are correct, we think that Zerom may be attempting to construct a Sygnus,” Zemi finally told them, deciding just to get it out and over with.
The silence that followed was undecipherable. It was impossible for him to tell if they were just stricken with the idea or if they simply did not know what in the world he was talking about.
Finally, Zeni offered, -It is the Darkstar?-
Not wanting to alarm his sisters, Zemi tried to buffer it a bit, “Well, we don’t know that for sure… yet…”
-But it is possible.-
“Yes, it is possible.”
There was another passing moment of silence. Then Zazo shook out her fur, rising up with flashing fangs, legs stiff and back arched in displeasure.
-Zerom! That… absolute… IDIOT! What does he think he’s doing!?-
A tremor of surprise rushed through Zemi. He had no idea that Zazo could respond to something in such a purely Earthian emotion.
-This is very bad…- Zeni agreed, fluttering her wings in the light of Zazo’s agitation.
“As I said,” Zemi pressed on, patting himself on the back for earning some of their disapproval for Zerom, “It’s not confirmed. But I plan on finding out if it’s true.”
-So that is why you have come here?- Zeni seemed to muse.
“That’s right,” the Dreigiau nodded. “I need to find out what Zerom is really doing in Nefol. I’m pretty sure it’s the place he’s chosen to take for his experimentation. I’m just really worried that he’ll get hostile towards me if I try to confront him about this.”
-So what do you plan to do?-
“It’s really hard to say,” he peered down at his feet, then glanced back up. “I came here to establish a rifting point that would be close enough to Nefol, but far enough away to not alert Zerom. I’m going to bring a number of my warriors here and we are going to make our way into the School and see what we can confirm.”
-Do you think that Zerom will want to fight you, Zemi?- Zeni asked.
“I don’t know. Ever since he’s come to this world, he’s become quite unstable and hostile towards me,” Zemi grimaced.
-That is an amusing thing,- Zazo replied, the tip of her tail waving. -It is the same thing that Zerom was telling us about you.-
“Is that so?” his voice lowered a bit. Perhaps the day had not been won yet.
-But I like you more than Zerom. He’s such a big grouch.-
“So does that mean you believe me?” Zemi asked with an arched eyebrow.
Zeni offered, -Zemi has been nicer than Zerom lately.-
-A fight seems like an entertaining idea, though.-
“Zazo, I’m going to try everything I can to stay out of a fight with Zerom.”
-Awww, now. Don’t destroy my hopes.-
“You’re impossible,” he grimaced.
-As are you,- she pointed out with a canine grin.
-But when you find the Sygnus, what will you do? You will eliminate the creature, yes?- Zeni inquired.
-Of course, silly. What else is there to do?- Zazo chided quickly.
Normally, Zemi might have agreed just as quickly. But for some reason, he found himself hesitant to answer. Instead, he told them, “We have to find out if there really is a Sygnus first, girls.”
-True, true…- Zazo eyed him with a slightly suspicious look. Or, at least as suspicious as a she-wolf Arweinydd could look.
Zeni, who didn’t seem to notice, simply offered, -Is there something that we can do to help, then?-
“Actually, since you happened to ask…” a slow, fangy grin slipped over Zemi’s face.