“We are losing time and ground, Zemi. We need to make a strike against Zeromus,” ZenToYa demanded, pressing his palms down on the dull surface of the meeting table. “The more time we give him to lick his wounds, the more time he has to redouble his efforts next time.”
“I understand that,” Zemi nodded slowly, leaning back in his chair. “But there’s still a lot of information that we don’t have yet. Scouting Nefol and the Mainland is difficult, even for the Dragons. You know that.”
“Yes, I do know that. I’m not supporting a foolish rush into the situation,” the winged man gave a long frown.
“Then what are you supporting?”
“I… don’t have all the details yet. I just know that the longer we turtle our defenses, the less ground we are winning,” he spread his hands as if making the most logical statement in the world. “Even Kudako agrees with me on this. We’ve sat idle for too long.”
The golden-eyed Dragon gave a low grunt under his breath. It was the only indication that he admitted to having anything to do with Zento’s demands.
He’s been upset about things lately…
AsaHi’s green eyes watched the heated discussion as it lit up the far side of the room. Everything there was dimmer and less magical than it was before the attack. Only minor damage was done to this area of the Compound, but there were still a few dark cracks that spidered over the once smooth, white stone walls. Official Assemblies were not held anymore — the Trine was no longer fully present with Zeni in Wyndor to watch over those who Migrated. They still gathered for tactical meetings and discussions about where things were going next.
There must be something more that he wants than just to strike against Zeromus. It’s not like Zento to urge fighting when it’s not needed.
Everyone seemed to have a different idea on what the best course of action was. Some felt they should try and change to an offensive stance. Some felt it was too risky and that a continued defense was the best. There were even some that whispered that giving up the Islands completely was the most sane thing to do.
It’s true we won the last battle. But we lost a lot, too. I don’t know how many more attacks we can withstand.
AsaHi didn’t like the idea of giving up any more than anyone else. There were just times when it was obvious that the battle was too big for them all.
To think of any battle being too big for Zemi Dreigiau was enough to make her shudder.
Even if we did leave the Islands, where would we go that would be safe? Eventually, Zeromus will expand beyond the Inner Realms as well.
Zemi leaned back in his large chair, one finger tapping idly at his chin. His sharp teal eyes flickered from the face of one person to another as if studying what sort of resources were available. When he finally spoke again, his voice was deep and resounding.
“It seems such a waste to keep swatting away the little annoyances that Zeromus keeps sending,” the Dreigiau rose from his chair and began to pace. “His troops keep wearing away at us, layer by layer. And we wear away at his troops layer by layer. But, as you’ve stated, that doesn’t gain us much ground, and he will just keep replenishing his troops.”
“We, on the other hand, have limited number of troops,” Aur murmured, nodding slowly. “Even though I’m sure we could find reinforcements within the Spiral, chances are, they would never make it here without Dragon transport. The lands below have become too wild to travel where Marked and Chaos creatures roam and destroy.”
“Yes, I know,” Zemi strode over to one of the large, arched windows and pushed aside the curtain. “That’s why it makes the most sense to strike at the heart of the disturbance.”
“Take out Zeromus himself?” Zento asked for clarification. The way he leaned forward in his seat spoke of interest and strong desire.
“I agree. We won’t stop this unless we cut things off at the source,” Kudako gave a curt nod, eyes focused sharply on the Dreigiau.
AsaHi remained silent, pondering the impossibility of it all. Afterall, they were discussing killing another Arweinydd – something that none of them knew how to do. Not even Zemi.
Zemi can’t directly attack Zeromus, or he will get caught up in the Chaos, too.
As if Zemi was following her line of thought, he spoke, “The question isn’t if it is the best thing to make a direct strike at Zeromus. The question is how do we plan and accomplish something like that? What can defeat a Chaotic Arweinydd?”
Even Zento fell still as the last echo of the words faded in the chamber. If Zemi didn’t know these answers, then who did?
After a long space of silence, Aur’s unblinking eyes shifted up. He spoke slowly, as if not sure that he wanted to impart such information, “There were things… in the Time Before… that were used to subdue the Arweinydd.”
Something about the statement darkened the room for a moment. AsaHi could almost see a shiver run over Zemi’s form. Though she couldn’t see his face, she could only imagine his expression at such a thought.
There’s so little that we know about the Arweinydd. About the Time Before. And about how all of these things fit together.
In their world, the Arweinydd were great Patron Guides to the people. Because they were creatures distant and without true physicality, they were seen as things that time and even death could not touch.
That doesn’t mean it’s true. That’s just the way we perceive them.
Aur’s eyes were fixed on Zemi — allowing him the choice of silence or enlightenment.
The Dreigiau turned slowly, meeting the Guardian’s gaze. Despite the fact that the knowledge could be used against him, too. Despite the fact that it was obviously uncomfortable to discuss something that was the fate of his own lost brother. Zemi slowly gave a nod.
“There were items of great power that were crafted in the Time Before that were used against the Arweinydd. Some of them were used to simply subdue. Some of them were created as weapons that could damage and kill,” Aur spoke slowly, his voice low. “But these were items that could only be properly used by the Sygni.”
AsaHi couldn’t help the little gasp that bubbled up in the back of her throat. The rest of the group was also watching Aur with troubled expressions.
Strangely enough, it was Kudako who was the first to speak, “Are you suggesting that we obtain one of these weapons, arm the boy-Sygnus, LuShi, and set him against Zeromus?”
“I am not suggesting anything,” Aur replied without hesitation. “I am simply giving the information that I know.”
“Mmm…” Kudako looked down at the table top. It was apparent that the information didn’t please him too much. Nor did it seem to please anyone else.
“That’s out of the question,” Zento murmured. “LuShi’s proven to be pretty unstable. He hasn’t even been out of bed in weeks after the battle.”
“Yes, but if we found something that he could use against Zeromus,” Zemi murmured from behind folded hands.
“You’re not seriously considering this, Zemi! Anything he could use against Zeromus, he could use on you, too!” the winged man’s voice raised an octave.
“ZenToYa,” the Dreigiau frowned sharply. “I know you have very little trust in the boy. I don’t believe he’d choose to fight against us. Especially since he can see now better than he could before how dangerous things are.”
“Still,” Zemi interrupted with an upraised finger. “I don’t know that I like the idea of scraping out old artifacts used by Sygni of the past to beat down Arweinydd in the Time Before, either.”
Zento huffed, puffing out his cheeks, “At least you’re talking some sense now.”
“Excuse me,” Aur peered between them with upraised eyebrows.
“At least, not before we’ve had a chance to study them,” the Arweinydd added quickly.
The Champion gave a frustrated sound. “Zemi..!”
“Excuse me,” the Guardian attempted again.
“Do you, or do you not want to do something about Zeromus?” Zemi gave the winged man a long, piercing look.
“I…” Zento opened his mouth, just shaking his head incredulously.
“I have something to say,” Aur’s voice rumbled, louder than AsaHi ever heard him speak before.
Both Zemi and Zento paused in mid-squabble to glance over with puzzled faces.
“You are both arguing over artifacts that you may never even find,” the Guardian spoke shortly, peering at them with a frown. “Though it’s quite possible that the items were left in this world somewhere after the Mistake, no one is really aware of their actual location.”
The winged man gave a long sigh and promptly plopped his head on the table. “Why didn’t you tell us that before?”
“I attempted to,” Aur replied with a very Earthian-type sigh. “You didn’t allow me to finish. As I said, I was only offering you factual information in response to your question. I didn’t say that this was information that we should act on.”
Zemi sighed, too. A long, hoarse sound of displeasure.
Kudako then went on to remark about the conversation in his own, quiet directness. But AsaHi’s attention was pulled away. For the first time, she realized that one of the doors to the meeting room was cracked open, ever so slightly. What really made her look was the strange, silvery mist that seeped into the room from the hallway.
No one noticed as she slipped down, crossing the room. They were all so caught up in their discussion that not a single eye strayed towards her.
The hall outside was empty. Though there was a slight trace of lingering mist in the air, it was faded and nearly imperceptible. AsaHi swallowed and began to walk down the length of the corridor, head weaving back and forth as she looked for any signs of something odd.
I’ve seen that mist before… but…
The thought left her puzzled and somewhat uneasy. With a frown, she passed from the straight hallway into the point where it crossed another. Looking down both ways, she caught sight of a figure to the right who was approaching with quick steps.
The figure also took notice of AsaHi, for the steps increased in pace and one hand raised in greeting. It took a moment for her to recognize the face of JouKa.
“Morh-AsaHi!” the voice called to her.
AsaHi stopped, waiting for the other girl to make her way over. “Hello, Jou. Is everything okay?”
“Actually,” she didn’t try to hide her frown. She simply shook her head. “I was ‘opin’ to catch sight o’ someone. Cuz’ bustin’ in on tha meetin’ isn’t any good ta do.”
“What’s wrong?” AsaHi turned full attention to trying to translate the thick accent. She knew that JouKa had originated in the eastern mountains. The people in that area developed some very strange ways to say things.
“TsuYa sent me out to find someone,” JouKa explained. “You know that kid, LuShi?”
“Well, ‘e’s done up and disappeared!”