The Gathering

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Chapter 18

According to the elders, Lord Kairos was once Archibald Hamilton, a revered American professor of ancient civilizations. He traveled all over the world, looking for ancient artifacts and historical pieces. A man in his prime, he had short brown hair and blue eyes and was married to his wife, a fellow academic, Margret Hamilton. One day, he joins an archaeological excavation team as they examine the ruins of a newly discovered Athenian temple in southern Greece.

As the team uncovers bizarre remains on the surface, Hamilton goes further into the cave until he discovers a scepter with a crescent moon head. Something about the scepter intrigued Hamilton, and it drew him closer to it. As he approaches it, he feels a sense of power radiating from the scepter, a force unlike he has ever felt before.

Gently grabbing the handle, a wave of energy, feeling like an electric pulse, engulfs him and causes the temple to shatter. The team above the temple run in fear just as a beam of energy bursts from the temple and into the sky like a rocket, leaving a bluish illuminating glow. When the team went to look for the professor, they could not find his body or anything of him. It’s as if he vanished just as the temple collapsed? Many thought he was dead, but that was further from the truth. Hamilton was alive and transported to another realm. Upon his arrival, the American professor woke up in an unknown field.

He still had his clothes on as well as the scepter in his hand. Upon looking at it, he noticed he had strange tattoos embedded in his skin. They resembled a crescent moon, and he was greeted by the Chrono people, who took him in. After a few weeks of adjustment into this new land, The Chronos then decided to share their magic secrets with the professor. That would be a decision they would later come to regret.

In the beginning, they taught him how to harness magic from the scepter. Unlike him, the Chrono could harness magic from their hands. They trained their American friend to use this power for good. The professor was fascinated at what he could do with this newfound power. The Chronos taught him everything they knew and were surprised at how much his prowess grew.

The professor soon used his powers to advance them in terms of agriculture, government, and social stability. Growing ever more curious, he asked his teachers as to where their source of power came. They told him all their strength came from a sacred stone called the moonstone. This stone is respected amongst the people. It resided in the heart of a mountain far from them. Hamilton asks as to why they didn’t use all of its power.

They explained to him that moonstone contains unstable power, and they use only a fraction of it amongst all the clans. If anyone were to use all of its power, the moonstone would corrupt the user. Hamilton protested that if they could find the stone, He could use it with the scepter and further advance the people. His teachers dismissed the idea and forbade him ever to have thoughts like those again. It was here that people would soon see Hamilton’s true nature.

After being introduced to this power, Hamilton journeyed to the mountains in secrecy, looking for the moonstone. His journey took him to the top where he finds seven stone statues resembling members of the Greek Pantheon.

Looking at the statues, he sees one of them holding the stone in its palms. Wrapping his hands around it, he tries to pull the stone out. With every tug and pull, he feels the energy from the stone gush through him, and soon the rock gives way, and Hamilton falls to the ground.

The removal of the stone shakes the very mounting to the core and the valleys below. As he gets back up, he notices that the stone statues were beginning to crack. Soon dark energy began to shine through each crack, and with a loud boom, the stone statues shattered.

As the dust passes, Hamilton is surrounded by seven figures. They were Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Athena, Ares, Hermes, and Hephaestus. They were the seven warlords of these lands but were turned to stone by the Chronos a millennia before Hamilton. Now freed, they planned on exacting their vengeance on the Chroni, but they first turned their attention to Hamilton.

As one approached him, the American pulled out the scepter and prepared to defend himself. To his surprise, the warlord kneels and swears service to him. Just then, the other six kneel and also swear loyalty to their new master. Then one of them presents a bronze helmet to Hamilton.

He cautiously takes the offering and places it on his head. As soon as he puts it upon his head, he feels a surge of energy flow throughout his body. The scepter and stone both glowed brightly, and with a loud crackling sound, Hamilton is engulfed in blue fire. The fire does not harm him but transforms his body while twisting his mind.

The stone’s unstable power read his heart and filled his thoughts with the dream of making a new world here, a perfect utopia in his image. Soon the transformation ends, and where once stood, Hamilton now stands someone else. His eyes were now sliver, and his hair all white. The clothing he once had turned to glimmering armor.

No longer was this man Hamilton of America. He was now Lord Kairos, leader of the Pantheon and supreme warlord of this land. When he returned to the village, he enacted his plan to create an entirely new civilization and thus enslaved the very people he once called friends.

Using the power of the stone and scepter, he began constructing large towns and cities and a castle for him to dwell. His Pantheon enforced his will on the populace and made examples of those who would resist. Soon their lush homes and villages turned to work camps, and all around them, their land slowly died as the stone took its life force away.

Yet some resisted. Amongst the people, seven mages of the last seven clans emerged to fight Kairos and his war band. There were some of Chroni’s most powerful mages and spell casters. To the Chronos, they were their people’s last chance. Together, the seven help unite the surviving clans and led a revolt against the Lord of Time at his newly constructed castle Olympus. Many died that fateful day, but in the ensuing uprising, the seven managed to steal back the stone and, with their combined magic, banished Lord Kairos and his Pantheon from these lands.

However, they knew he would return with a vengeance and try to reclaim his stone. Knowing they would need help, the mages construct a stone ring in the moon forest, carved with ancient symbols of their people, and using the power of the stone, called upon warriors from planet earth. Thus the gathering of champions had emerged.

܀

“What happened next?” asked Cynbel, who eagerly wanted to know the end. It was then that Richard cleared his throat and continued the elder’s story.

“Lord Kairos came back, much earlier than anticipated. During his banishment, he gathered an army of Chronos outcasts and turned them into his obedient soldiers and followers. When he returned, he enacted a purge on the seven clans that defied him. Originally, there were hundreds of earthlings fighting with the Chronos against Lord Kairos. But his war band eradicated them all.”

He pointed to all the weapons and armor of the warriors on the temple walls.

“These once belonged to the first gathering; now, they are simply there as a reminder for us. Once his war band eradicated all of the earthlings, Lord Kairos went looking for the stone. Thankfully the mages never kept the stone in one place. They would often send the stone to another clan in hopes of confusing him. Sadly, he exterminated all six of the seven clans, including the six mages who banish him. Now the last mage is being held as a prisoner in Castle Olympus.”

Richard said nothing else and allowed all that had been told to seep into the newcomer’s minds.

Tyra then asks Richard a question that she and the others have been wondering. “If all the earthlings died when Lord Kairos came back, how are you and your friends here?”

Mori sighed. “We were the last group of seven to be summoned here. It takes too much energy to summon hundreds of earthlings without killing the land. Thus, the people decided to summon only seven earthlings from across time instead. Just like those before us, we were summoned to free these people. But after five long years of fighting, I, Edward, and Sparrow cannot stop Lord Kairos and his Pantheon alone. That is why you four were summoned. To help us free these people.”

Tyra, Decimus, Amyntas, and Cynbel all look at the people before them. They then turn their attention to Avalon, who has been quiet this whole discussion.

“And what is your stake in this crisis?” asked Decimus. The hunter gets up and shows them all his medallion.

“This medallion tells me that it is my destiny to help you succeed in your quest and bring peace. Whatever your decision is, know that I will follow you to the ends of the world.”

They processed all they heard from everyone. It was a lot to take in, and many had secret doubts about whether this was real. Nonetheless, their questions were answered, and now it was the people who needed theirs. All were quiet until Amyntas stood up.

“In Sparta, we are trained at birth to be warriors, to defend our home from the Persian invaders. When I finished my training, I was put into service and sent with the Greek Alliance to face them. Before we met the enemy, my commander told us that we are fighting to free ourselves from foreign tyranny and preserve the lives of our people.” He looks at everyone standing in the temple.

“I may not know you people or fully understand this stone or lord Kairos, but I know that no one should live under oppression. I will fight for you.”

His final statement got the people’s attention, who, for so long, have all but given up. The elders smile along with Edward and his companions. Then Decimus stood up, as well as Cynbel and Tyra. Avalon also stands with them. They all repeated the same phrase, and the people erupted in cheers and applause.

Finally, after years of suffering, their champions have returned.

܀

After the brief celebration, the band of heroes plotted on how to beat lord Kairos and free the mage. For hours they debated on what would be the best course of action. Some felt a frontal attack would work, while others favored a more stealthy approach. Getting nowhere, they all decided to get some air.

As Amyntas and the others went out to explore the rest of the village, Richard, along with Mori and Sparrow, stayed behind in the temple and looked back at the walls. The trio then looked at a particular area of the temple which housed four glass boxes. In these boxes were the items of the trio past comrades when they were chosen.

In the first box was an elegantly curved sword called the shamshir and a turban wrapping around it. It belonged to Kabeer al-Salim, a Saracen who served under Saladin during the Crusades. The second box contained a broken jaguar helmet, a wooden club with shards of obsidian, and worn cotton armor. This belonged to Itzcoatl, a Jaguar warrior during the Aztec empire’s fall.

The third box contained only a bronze sickle sword called the Khopesh belonging to Rabiah, an Egyptian infantryman during the rule of Rameses II.

The fourth and final box contained no weapon or clothing at all, just a simple bracelet and a medicine bag belonging to the Mongolian girl Yisu Qatun. She was the daughter of a Mongol Chief and was the bravest of them all. Richard places his hand on the glass and reminisces about the loss of his friends. Mori places a hand on his weary friend’s shoulder.

“They will be avenged. We will make sure of that. Once this is all over, we will give them a proper burial.”

Richard looks at his friend. “Will it be over? We have been here for five years now, Mori. How do you still have Hope?” The samurai looks at the four glass containers and then back at Richard.

“Hope is what keeps these people alive, and it is what’s keeping us together for all these years. I do not know if we will succeed, but all I can do is all of us have left.”

As day turns to night, the trio talks about old times and remembers their old friends while the four newcomers explore the village and meet them. Avalon, however, went to discuss with the guardian.

The night sky was littered with the stars of distant planets and moons. For the first time, the people felt at peace and could spend the night with family and loved ones for a long time. Seeing this interaction made Decimus sad. He still misses his family back in Rome and wonders what is happening in his time.

Taking a seat outside the temple, the Roman grabs a stick and starts making scratches in the dirt. As he does this, he sees a glimpse of a shadow approaching him. Looking up, he finds that it is Tyra, who had a drink in her hand. She takes a seat next to him and takes a sip of her cup. She is surprised how tart the bottle is much different from anything she had in her time. Still, she continues drinking.

“Do you miss home?” Decimus said. Tyra wipes her hand over her mouth and looks back at the Roman, unsure if she heard him correctly.

“Do you miss home, Viking?” Tyra lets out a huff. “Of course I do, all of us do, why?”

The Roman puts his stick down and pulls out his eagle necklace from his mail shirt. “My wife gave this to me before I left to go to war. Now I feel that this may be the only thing I have left of my home.”

Tyra could hear sadness coming from her companion.

“Do you have a family or a loved one, Tyra?” The Viking quickly shook her head no, but she longed to have a family of her own. The roman places a hand on her shoulder and smiles.

“Don’t worry; I’m sure you will find someone.” His comforting words brought a smile to her face and offered to buy him a drink. He agrees, and the duo walks back together.

Outside the village, Amyntas walked around in the tall grass and marveled at the moon. Its luminous glow covers the whole area. Finding a small hill, he sits down for a while and begins to think of how to save the mage. There has to be a way to stop Kairos, but how he thought to himself.

As the young Spartan thought, he heard the soft howl of the summer breeze blowing past him. Getting further into thought, he tried to put everything he heard from the elders and Richard together.

Concentrating diligently, he finally comes up with a possible plan to defeat lord Kairos and save the mage. Getting to his feet, the young lad rushes back into the village.

He goes and gets everyone and asks them to come into the temple once more. Intrigued, Richard, along with the six, Avalon and the Chroni, go back into the temple. Once fully settled, they wait patiently for the news.

“I think I know a way to beat Lord Kairos?” said Amyntas

“How do you mean?” replies the others.

“Well, it’s a two-part plan. The first part is that we need another stone.” Everyone gave the Spartan a puzzled look. “Elders, in your tale, you said that the seven warlords gave Hamilton a helmet, tell me, did that helmet have a previous owner?” The elders look at each other until one finally gets the revelation.

“Yes, the helmet belongs to the original leader of the warlords, and his name was…Lord Kairos.” Everyone gasps in the temple.

“Correct, I believe that when Lord Kairos died, his spirit possessed the helmet, and that helmet is what’s controlling Hamilton. Yes, the stone read his heart and saw his flaws, but that only happened when he put the helmet on. I believe the spirit of Lord Kairos is possessing Hamilton, and he needs the stone to keep the host body alive.”

This sudden revelation shocked everyone in the room. Just then, a citizen shouted at Amyntas. “How did you figure this out, you haven’t been here that long.” The Spartan acknowledged the comment made by the citizen and continued speaking.

“True, neither I nor the others have been here as long, but listening to everything that has been said about the situation got me thinking. When Hamilton got the stone and turned into Kairos, he ruled here for over a hundred years. That seems a long time for a mortal to rule. Then you told us he desperately hunted for the stone after he was banished. I believe he needs the stone to keep the host’s body alive. Without the stone, the body would fail, and his spirit could never again take physical form.”

As he finished, Richard got up. “And how does this all relate to your plan of getting another stone.”

Amyntas gave his reply. “The answer is simple. We will make another one.”

Everyone gets up in an uproar. The Chroni explained to the Spartan that the material needed to make a stone was destroyed. All seemed bleak at this point until Avalon stood up.

“Deep in the forest is a totem that houses a green moonstone. The stone has no magic in it. It is used as a decoration. But it’s impossible to retrieve it.”

“Why is that?” inquired Tyra.

“That stone belongs to wendigo people, and they will not part with it so easily,” said Avalon.

“Surely, we can beat them. You single handedly took on a group to save me a few days ago.

“One small group is not the same as the entire tribe,” said Avalon. “Not even Kairos dares to anger them. It’s a suicide mission.”

“Do we have a choice, we either risk getting killed and eaten by cannibals or incinerated by Kairos; time is running out. Sooner or later, Kairos will kill the mage and march his forces here. We cannot linger any more. I say we go to the forest and get that stone.”

All began to chatter in the temple. Even the elders debated on this radical idea. Just then, Decimus pulls Amyntas to the side and talks with him privately with the others.

“Hell of plan Spartan, but I gotta ask if we do get this stone, what’s the second step? How do we defeat a god?”

“Kairos wants the stone, but what does Hamilton want…” No one could answer that question except for Decimus. He figures out the answer and says, “home.” Here, Amyntas explains his full plan to them.

Amyntas explains that Hamilton, like them, was far from home. Based upon what they heard, he was happy to help the people of this land, but he often talked about getting back home, home to his wife, Margret. This brought up questions in his mind. Did she miss him? Did she remarry? Did she die?

He planned to get the stone, infuse it with magic, summon Hamilton’s wife and use her to snap him out of Lord Kairos’ control. Once he was freed, they would deal with the seven warlords and return home. Everyone agreed with the young Spartans plan. It was risky, but as he said, time was running out.

Just then, they hear the elders call out for them. They break their huddle and approach the wise Chroni. They explain to the earthlings that while they did not agree with this plan, they realize that they had no other alternative. The Chroni elders then gave their blessing to the humans and told them they must retrieve the stone at all costs.

Satisfied, Amyntas put his helmet back on and grabbed his gear. Decimus shook his head and did the same. Tyra and Cynbel both look at each other and follow right behind them. Avalon shrugs and follows along. Richard, Sparrow, and Mori all look at one another until Richard shakes his head and grabs his gear. Mori tells the villagers that they will be back as soon as possible.

Sparrow sends his Richards falcon into the air to be their eyes in the sky. As the eight warriors left the great temple, all were greeted by the villagers who were bowing to them. The men and women of the village kneeled in respect and honor to their saviors. It has been many years since this has happened. Walking towards the gate leading to the badlands and, further along, the forest, Amnytas stopped. In confusion, the rest of the group did the same.

“Tell me, Richard, does this world have any large farm animals of sorts. Say a horse by chance.”

“Horses, no. We have creatures called Basilisks. They are massive creatures with large, eagle-like heads on powerful reptilian bodies and run on all fours. Why?”

Amyntas gave a sly smile. “Why the hell are we walking then?” Making a quick detour to the village stables, the heroes then ride out under the night sky.

As they charged into the badlands, Sparrow, Cynbel, and Tyra let out war cries into the night sky that echoed throughout the plains. As they headed further and further into the badlands, Amyntas could see the faint outline of the valley’s end. They all knew that they were close to the forest, close to where their journeys all began.

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