The darkness spread over him, a silent, icy demon shrouding the granite floors and walls in deep shadow. Makron crouched, his arms over his head, the particles of debris smearing his clothes in soot and dust, his ears ringing, drowning the world out.
Makron had been scared, but his mind issued a last-ditch effort to persevere. Even though it knew it could not survive, could not even brace a power such as that for even a tenth of a second. He would be blown to dust. But… Makron was not dead. As everything seemed to calm, the dust settled, Makron opened one of his tightly shut eyes, not believing that that bang, that torrential roar he heard, and the aftermath that followed suit, did not touch him.
As Makron rose to his full height, his eyes locked on the ground. As light poured in from the open tunnels, some of the walls blasted open, letting cracked fire crystals from the explosion burning from its inner content’s sudden exposure to air, Makron did not need to employ any spiritual energy to see. What was around him was glaringly obvious. For two meters, with him in the center, it was as if nothing had happened; but outside of that radius, for at least twenty meters, everything was destroyed or stained black. The lustrous array that was once there, a marvel that could have advanced the common man’s knowledge a thousand fold from a few arduous years of studying, vanished. It vanished along with the secrets that were once held by this chamber. A chamber in which its walls were marred and secrets destroyed; secrets that will now never be known and will forever be forgotten.
Makron sighed. He was relieved that he was alive, but a part of him wondered if he had not been so foolish that this treasure of a place would have lasted. There was also a more pressing thought. How did I survive? It was then that Makron looked down in his hands. The scroll he opened. The beauty it once held was gone, leaving a brown and crusty thing. So it was because of essence. The person who built this laid a trap. But if it was a trap for whoever opened it, then why let me live?
As Makron was thinking this, his eyes narrowed. Scrounging up the last vestiges of spiritual energy in his core, he flowed it through his nervous system, highlighting his eyesight. At that moment, a small circular symbol glowed dimly on the scroll. On that light was a spec of blood. Makron moved his fingers. It was his thumb. The same thumb he used to wipe the blood from his lip and wipe it on the secret passage walls when he wanted to leave or enter them.
His hands were clammy and sweaty. It must have made it easy for the dried up blood on his finger to wipe of on the scroll when I clenched for impact. The scroll recognized me as the owner and protected me from the blast… But why would it recognize me as the owner?
Though Makron thought all these things, a more daunting thought came to him. I must get out of here. They will come for me. The other six won’t take the shortest route here as others would now be watching the surrounding areas closely, but they will find a way. I don’t have much time.
Makron took a quick glance around. Now that the broken fire crystals on the other side of the wall were burning, the chamber was somewhat lit. That meant he did not need to rely on his spiritual energy capacity to view the place. Furthermore, he did not have to worry about the arrays anymore since the dangerous part had been activated and destroyed.
Makron knew he had about three minutes before he lost any chance to escape. I need to look around some more. If they are now my enemies I need to take everything of worth with me!
Running about, Makron searched high and low. He remembered some of the areas that were dark before, places that would be high level, but those places were burnt black too, and quickly, his three minutes were. Markon did not want to leave. He did not have the opportunity to search everywhere. His gut had a feeling that there was something important here, something powerful. But he had no more time.
Makron ran out through the wall he fell through from, a wall that was now blown right open, went to the right, and down the hall. Soon, with a few twists and turns, he was gone.
Official Lun pretended to enjoy the ride, providing a slight smile or a laugh at the jokes of the other nobles and officials within the carriage. He gave no hint to his true thoughts. Thoughts that would have had every one of those men and women to bloody their soft hands as they slid their gaudy ceremonial swords and knives into his throat.
He closed his eyes, imagining the blood spilling over onto the dyed, leather seats, making the merlot color turn another hue. It was at that moment that Official Lun wished for his sweet Koyu to be there at his side. That way he could somehow hold himself back. Back from smacking off those fake smiles and pale made up faces.
But Koyu was not there, so Official Lun had to rely solely on his own strength. But he was used to that. He was used to relying on himself.
The carriage bounced up and down from time to time as the horses clamored forth. Their hoof beats were muffled by the sealing his carpenter glazed over the frame under the paint. It was something new, something that all the nobles were doing these days, but that just made Official Lun nervous.
For those in a carriage, if you can’t hear what’s happening outside, then you can very much end up dead. Every second is precious in case of an attack. And the group were no longer in a city, but the very edges, where bandits tend to roam. Nothing to fear, he told himself. The King’s position may have been weak, but his grip on the city did not lose too much even at this distance. No bandit would dare be so bold to come this close. But an assassin?
The group had been traveling in the carriage for about over an hour. The carriage was large enough to hold nine people.
All nine people were there. More in fact considering the carriage ahead and the two behind.
Official Lun sat besides a young woman. She had long and silky, black hair. Her dress pressed tight on her waist and chest, pushing up her cleavage. Her breasts bounced as the carriage jolted.
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Official Lun tried his best to stray his eyes from the jiggling bosom at his side. Usually he would be able to take peeks as long as he wanted without a woman knowing. That was what his father called, ‘a man’s skill’. But it was not just a woman with him. Even though some of the old men were seated with their eyes closed, and the young folk seemed lost in their chatter, the one that sat in front of Official Lun was the young woman’s father. His piercing grey eyes never left Official Lun. They watched him with careful precision.
“What makes you think you are good enough for my daughter?” The old man finally spoke. The group had been traveling for over an hour, but all that time he had said nothing.
The young woman at Official Lun’s side looked up, her head eventually turning to Official Lu. It was not just her and her father, but everyone in the carriage who seemed to be looking at him. The older folk’s eyes slitted open. The younger folk stopped speaking. They were all listening without restraint, as if Official Lun’s interests were their own. Well, that might really be the case. After all, my fall will either hurt or benefit lot of them.
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The carriage stopped. Official Lun gave a wry smile. He was at a loss. He closed his eyes and sighed, only to open them again and peer into those grey eyes. Koyu was not with him, and even though Official Lun enjoyed his time with her, she could not be his wife. He needed someone who would boost his political position further. Time was short. The very government was going into upheaval, and he needed to be the one to take over when the time came.
“Governor Pa. You run the Pa city, and only second to the king, do you rule there with an iron fist. You have not only aided in the birth and raising of such a beautiful woman, but provided the world with a woman of with an interesting perspective. That along with her wit and vigilance…” Official Lun sighed and shook his head. “I am not sure there is anyone that is worthy of such a woman. Barely even a select ten in this entire empire. All I can say is that I will strive to be one of those ten. I will care for her, and bar the enemies at her door.” And then his tone became stern, filled with steel. “There will be no harm to ever come to her, and no possible wants that will not be fulfilled. That is my oath.”
Official Lun’s words were hair-raising to everyone in the carriage. It was one thing to flatter father and child, but not only did he do that, he said that only ten people were probably of the woman’s worth in the entire empire. And that he would become one of them! Anyone who knew Official Lun knew he achieved his goals and had done so aptly. For the top ten people of the empire, they were existences that even the King in Arrodine did not have the qualifications to look upon, much less be considered on the same level. That meant that his words were either foolhardy or on the precipice of treachery.
Official Lun got out of the carriage, he held out his hand for the young woman who had sat beside him. She took the hand, and he helped her out. The rest of the nobles and officials came out of the carriage. The others that were in the others had come out as well.
No one spoke of what Official Lun had just said. It had too many meanings, and most of those meanings, even though at the outset seemed like basic flatter, held some terrifying notions. They sprung up ideas that no one wanted to ponder upon.
After exiting, the carriage drivers whipped their reins and drove their horses forward, leaving the road empty, with instructions to circle back in a half hour. No one can know we were here. The entire trip was carefully planned in which, even how they left the city, it would not be noticed by anyone that was not trusted.
Ahead of everyone was a trail. It was only a five-minute walk amongst a crop of trees, and soon the land opened up to them. In the distance, a giant stone, circular platform, spanning four acres wide stood, three smaller circular platforms placed equidistant on only half of the north side were there as well.
Giant deep blue and grey fluid congealed and warped above those three platforms. It was in a liquid form closer to the center, and more of a greyish blue gas at the outer portions. Those were nexus portals. But the group did not come for them.
A few of the nobles and officials sucked in a cool breath. They had never been to the platform before. The entire trail and surrounding area was shrouded in an array that concealed it. Unless they had a token, the one that Official Lun gave them, they would never of had been able to reach past that five-minute walk.
Some of the group were minor characters, and others were major ones like the governor of Pa city. Official Lu was a major official in Aros City. But all of them were important to Official Lu’s plan. This was his group of people. He brought them all here to see the a glimpse of the future, and solidify his base.
The group climbed the steps up onto the platform, peering over the distance. Miles ahead, the land became low; trees started to fade away, and soon in place of earth were rocks, and the rocks became water.
A giant sea laid in front of them, clear in daytime view. The giant waves in the distance appeared tiny in their eyes; the tiny waves, nonexistent. The sky overhead was cast with white clouds. Ones growing greyer and greyer-dark even, the further out to sea.
Official Lun pulled a circular watch from his pocket, the chain on it clasped to his inner tunic. It’s just about time. And then, a silent rumble. The clouds broke apart, and a giant keel and the belly of a ship broke through. Seconds, a nautical figurehead popped into view. It depicted a wailing creature, fraught with torment. Its ears with spikes and carved chains merging its limbs into the wood of the ship.
Two stone rings floated beneath the keel, the smaller of the rings further below. And as the ship descended, giant cyclones of sea rose into the air, slamming themselves into the ship’s sides. But the ship did not collapse. It lowered itself slowly, The giant mast breaking through with a symbol of a lotus sewn into its fabric.
Within the time it took for an incense stick to burn, the ship came on land, The cyclones becoming tornadoes.
There was nothing that bridged its path and in minutes the ship was upon them.
The tornadoes disappeared. The stone rings came together, and the ship glided across until it landed on the platform.
Official Lun smiled and looked at the grey-eyed father. As the wind bustled about, wiping their cloaks back, and rustling their here, the group had shock and awe on their faces as they gazed upon the lotus. The father turned his head to Official Lun, his piercing grey eyes that once had a hint of muddiness, now with the spark of life.
“Ladies and gentlemen.” Official Lun called out. “It’s time to meet my friend from the capital.”