Reverie's End: Blades of Malice
Day: 9/17/991; Time: 3rd hour
Over 3 months have passed since the red-haired man and his panther, Atma, spoke to the leader of the Nekowood. Ever since then they have been marauding in the Gray Lands and the surrounding areas. A few times he even crossed into Charon and plundered House Nyr's lands. The man was not in a hurry and did as he pleased. He would often roll dice or cast lots to make his daily decisions. The results determined what he would eat that day, what village to plunder, who to kill, and anything else he couldn't decide on his own. There was no order or purpose behind any of these actions.
He made sure to only target humans and not the citizens of the Nihil Alliance. The sinister red-haired man was a lunatic, but he knew not to start unnecessary strife too early. He took his time and slowly built up his army, sometimes resorting to coercion. In time, he had a small force of 1000 men and 500 Gray Elm at his beck and call. It was now time to add some more diversity to his army.
The Neko were still unwilling to join, but the Kali were a different story. They had a long and turbulent history with mankind. Some of the younger Kali had grown tired of being denied the same privileges as humans and of not being allowed to freely walk on land. These Kali felt that the Great Sea of Ethos was not enough; they wished for more freedom.
The older and more conservative factions felt quite differently about all of this. Like many of the other Nihil Alliance races, they preferred to be left alone and to live in peace far away from humans. The Great Sea, which many of them called the "Ocean" covered almost the entire eastern half of the world. The Kali had more territory than all of the seven kingdoms combined; they could swim freely for many hexes in any direction and never encounter a human. They had the freedom that they desired already; there was no need for anything else.
Winning the Kali over to his side would be difficult, but the man from the lower realms was good at reading minds and manipulating hearts. He had already arranged for a meeting with the Kali of the Nihil Alliance, and was waiting for them on Helos Island, which was not too far off the coast of the Helos Ruins, the lands of the Nihil Elm.
It was late at night, but the man could not sleep. He took a stroll through the island and began to reminisce about his childhood. His appearance might have implied that he was born evil. In general, humans did not walk around surrounded by a dark evil aura everywhere they went. Although, most would never believe it after looking at him, there was a time when the man with green eyes and long red-hair was just an ordinary human boy from western Ethos.
But those days were in the past; his mission was now a different one. It was not to have children, start a family, and live life to the fullest. It was a far grander vision; he was going to restart time. He was going to be instrumental in fulfilling the millennial prophecy. That had been his purpose in life ever since he visited the Realm of Darkness and found out the truth behind the creation of the world. The man walked around for a while, laughed about how meaningless everything was, and then went to bed.
The meeting began at the 12th hour in the council chamber of the Kali. They were gathered in wooden hut; it was a simple room with a large round table in the middle. The Nihil Kali preferred to live a life free from excess. Around the table were seated 10 tribal elders of varying ages. One in particular looked as if he should have retired already and another looked no older than 20. It was a diverse crowd, but they all shared the same dark blue eyes that were unique to their species. They all wore thin blue armor with their tribal sigils on them. The armor was not only lightweight, but waterproof as well. Kali looked similar to humans, but were taller, physically stronger, and able to breathe underwater for long periods of time. They also had scales on various parts of their bodies and webbing on their hands and feet. The Kali were warriors of the sea; few could fight against them in their natural habitat.
The 10 elders each had one trusted warrior with them. It was always good to be safe. They did not know what to expect from an evil-looking human with a black panther for an ally. The sinister man had a gray elm and one warrior with him; the elm's presence was an aid in intimidating the tribal elders and displaying his strength and authority.
Besides trust issues, the other problem was proper communication. The man and his panther did not speak Kali and most of the elders did not Thorian. It was only thanks to the three younger elders and two additional interpreters that the meeting could even take place. Unlike the Neko, Kali were not particularly adept at picking up foreign languages. It was only the most outgoing Kali that even attempted to learn the languages of men.
The men had all arrived and were staring at their guests: a man with an evil grin wearing green armor and a brown cape and a large black panther that had the ability of speech. Finally, the red-haired man broke the silence: "Greetings, Elders of the Kali! I am pleased to make your acquaintance. We have gathered you here to discuss the possibility of an alliance. I believe that it would be beneficial for both of us."
A young golden-haired elder translated the man's message to the others. "We have the entire ocean to ourselves. How can you give us anything that we don't already have? We have peace and freedom," replied one of the gray-haired old men. The speech of the Kali sounded aquatic in nature. It was as if they were speaking underwater. Perhaps it was only natural given that they spent most of their time below the surface.
"I can give you the freedom to walk on land undisturbed by humans. You should think about my offer," replied the man.
The elders all began to fervently debate among themselves after hearing the translation. They were not all in agreement with each other; the man's words were enticing to some of them.
"We, the Kali, belong in the Great Sea. Let the foolish humans quarrel among themselves and have their filthy land. It is no concern of ours; I am surprised that they have not killed each other off yet," said a brown-haired and middle-aged Kali.
"Do I need to remind you of the war 80 years ago? The Kingdoms of men might be occupied with the Blades of Malice right now, but eventually things will settle down and they will come for you. The greed of mankind has no boundaries. Charon and Gaea are especially interested in expanding their boundaries. Most humans are cowards, but there are still quite a few that are curious about the mysteries of the ocean. They would even dare to encroach on your territories," said the man, with a serious look on his face.
The elders had a look of awe on their faces; this man had done his research. The brown-haired man responded in his stern voice, "You know our history well; Rami's War was a tragedy. It is for that reason that we cannot allow ourselves to be involved with the humans ever again. I only wish that our youth understood that and stopped believing these pipe dreams!" He looked over at the three youngest elders and glared at them.
"The humans can try all they want, but they were never meant to dwell among the seas. It is a foolish endeavor to try and conquer us," said the gray-headed elder in his raspy aquatic voice.
"Perhaps it is, but don't underestimate the humans. They will continue to advance their technology and one day will have the powers to live in the sea. Their ingenuity and resourcefulness is not to be taken lightly. It seems that you do not know about the Stones of Ethos that the Blades of Malice are searching for," said the man.
"The Stones of Ethos? What are they?" asked the gray-headed elder.
"They are large gems that can still fit into one's hand. Their powers lie in their destructive nature; they have the ability to manipulate the Light of Ethos, extract its power, and use it to wage war. My sources claim that they have two of these stones and that they plan on attacking Gamma with one of them very soon," said the man.
"Good riddance! The humans will keep each other busy; it will take years for them to rebuild after such a war," said the brown-haired elder, while smirking.
"Everyone wants those stones: whoever wins will rule all of Ethos and possibly even the seven seas. The battle will start any day now; you better hope that the victors are merciful and keep the Stone as a trophy, never to be used again," said the man, smirking back at the elder.
The gray-headed man spoke up, "What do you have to gain from all of this? Why did you come all the way here and tell us all of this? Aren't you a human yourself?"
The red-haired man laughed loudly for several seconds and spoke again after regaining his composure, "I was a human once, but that was long ago. The guy next to me is a talking panther. Does that look like someone a human hangs out with? I am here to fight for Ethos. The humans are upsetting the balance of the world. Maybe it's time to begin a new era, one that is without humans."
The man's words shocked the elders. He seemed serious, but the gray-headed elder and a few others could not help, but be suspicious of him.
The gray-headed elder stood up and announced: "The meeting is adjourned. I thank you for your news from abroad. We will discuss this among ourselves and come to a conclusion on our own." A few elders began to argue, but were quickly hushed by the others.
The red-haired man got up and said, "Very well. Even if you don't join me, you might want to watch the battle in Gamma. They say it'll be the "battle of the century". You'll be able to see what mankind is capable of for yourselves and maybe even change your mind." He bowed and left the room along with Atma.
The immediate results of the meeting didn't matter; only the seeds that were planted in the hearts of the listeners. It only took a little leaven to leaven the whole lump; the man knew this very well. He was already able to see a lust for power in the eyes of some of the elders.
"So where do we go now?" asked Atma as soon as they left the room.
"We're leaving for Gamma city, but only as tourists. The outcome will decide what we do next," said the man chuckling.