The Gathering

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Chapter 35

The throne room was as elegant as it was deadly. Imposing banners with the crescent moon symbol draped the sides of the room. Praetorian guards hoplite from each of the warlords stood at attention. The marble pillars and limestone walls and floors were modeled after the similar one back on earth.

Under his disguise, Amyntas could not help felt be impressed by the level of architecture and detail that was just in this room. As Richard and the others continued walking through the room, they were stopped by two sentries.

At the very far end of the room was the imperial throne. Behind it was an inverted crescent moon dyed a milky white color. Just from an appearance, everyone felt the power radiating from it. Then they heard the sound of the door closing behind them with a loud THUD.

With the door locked, they heard the sounds of footsteps approaching them. Then appearing from behind the throne emerged last five warlords: Hera, Hephaestus, Poseidon, Hermes, and Zeus, who was seen just outside the door.

“How the hell did he get inside?” whispered Cynbel. Before she got her answer, she saw him. They all saw him. The sovereign of the realm. The head man himself.

Lord Kairos.

He was dressed in his imperial toga attire, complete with his embroidered hood. His helmet still covered his face, but glimpses were showing his age. His yellow eyes were like eagles, piercing into the very soul of whoever stood in his way. In his left hand held the Crest moon scepter. Even after all these years, it still had its gleam when it was first discovered.

As the might ruler took a seat on his throne, he leaned back in his chair. He then gestured Richard to come forward. Seeing as now or never, the English mercenary approached the evil tyrant. Richard took a bow and stood erect, hoping to mask his fear with his charisma.

“Mr. Hawk, this is a surprise?” said the tyrant in a calm tone.

“Pardon the intrusion, my lord, but I had to see you. It’s urgent.” Richard gazed at the warlords. “You seem to be missing two of your warlords, Kairos, something wrong?”

“I sent out Athena to hunt down the other humans. She has not returned. As for lord Ares, you were instructed to meet him in the arena. You are here, but he is not. Care to explain.” Richard gulped before answering.

“I did meet with Lord Ares per your instruction. I arrived by myself; my companions were ... elsewhere. In the area, we discussed the terms laid out by your agreement, when ... complications occurred.”

“Complications?” said Hera.

“We came under attack, my lord. By complete surprise, I might add. Lord Ares did not make it.”

“By who?” asked Kairos.

“Dragons, my lord.” Kairos and his warlords began to laugh.

“Stupid human, do you expected us to believe that dragons ambushed you in the area and killed Lord Ares?” said Poseidon.

“I figured you say this; thus, I bring proof.” Richard slowly reached into his pocket and pulled out the dragon’s talon and presented it. One of the Praetorian grabbed the claw and gave it to Kairos. The aging tyrant stood wide-eyed in shock.

“This is impossible?”

“Not anymore,” replied Richard.

“How do we know this is from a dragon?” questioned Hermes. Richard glared at the young warlord.

“Do not try my intelligence boy. I know for a fact your lord and master has called upon drakes to do his bidding. I’ve seen them twice. Once five years ago, and now just recently. I also know he has an unsteady pact with the father of dragons, which is why he has frequently searched for the stone.”

After Richard’s statement, one of the warlords whispered something into Kairo’s ear. Richard could not hear what was being discussed, but he could sense that Kairos was concerned.

“I thank you for bringing this news to my attention. A pity to have lost Ares, but I take it your mission was not a total loss.” Richard shook his head.

“After the ambush, I managed to escape with the stone, thanks to a few of Ares’s black monks. They escorted me back into the forest and helped me arrive here.”

“You said you have the stone, may I see it?” Richard could feel his palms begin to sweat. As he reached into his pouch once more, he prayed that this work and pulled out the stone. Everyone in the room marveled at the sight. Even Lord Kairos rose from his throne slightly.

“Give it to me,” ordered the tyrant.

“No,” said Richard. The room suddenly went quiet. Kairos got up from his throne and walked towards the mercenary. He stopped directly in front of him. Richard could feel the hatred radiating from him.

“What did you say?” asked Kairos. “Did you say no?”

“Yes, I did.” Kairos then grabbed Richard’s throat.

“You do not make the decisions here. When I want something, I take it.” Richard remained calm and looked into the tyrant’s menacing eyes.

“Not this time. I have been stuck here for five bloody years. I have lost many good friends. Killed many who deserved it, and many who did not. I am done being someone’s lap dog. This time I speak, and you listen.” Kairos tightens his grip around Richard’s neck.

“I can break you in two,” growled the tyrant.

“Go ahead, kill me with your magic. Even if you get the stone, it will take you eons to reach full strength. And during that time, the dragons will come back, and you won’t be able to drive them away.” Kairos growled but then slowly loosen his grip on Richard. Rubbing his throat, the mercenary took a deep breath before speaking.

“What I want is fairly simple. I want the mage as my payment. I want him to send me home.”

“NOT HAPPENING!” yelled Kairos.

“You will give me what I want or else.”

“Or else what?” Richard held out the stone in his hand and began to squeeze.

“I’ll destroy this stone once and for all.” Kairos stared back at him.

“Do that, and you will be doomed here, forever. You will never leave.” Richard soon began to laugh.

“With all the things I’ve done, I know I’m going to burn in hell. That’s why I’m not scared to burn here on this planet.” Everyone could feel the tension.

It was not a battle of wills. Who would cave in first? As the two men starred down one another, Richard continued squeezing the stone. He could see the eyes darting from inside Kairos’s helmet. Just then, the was a small cracking sound. Kairos raised his scepter in defeat.

“Stop,” he yelled. “Very well, you will have your mage.” He then called for one of his warlords.

“Hera, go to the dungeons and bring the mage here.” The warlord saluted her ruler and made haste to the dungeons. As she left the room, Kairos turned his attention back to Richard. Though he would not admit it, he was impressed by the human’s very shrewd negotiation.

“Well played, Richard. Had anyone else risked that gamble, they would have lost? They do not have the strength and character to do want needs to be done. But you? Your kind kills each other for victory on a small piece of rock. An admirable quality.”

“Yeah, we humans are a complex bunch.” Still waiting for the Hero to arrive with the prisoner, Kairos inquired about how Richard and his companions managed to escape the others. This time, Mori spoke up.

“We split into three groups and went into opposite directions. That way, if one of us did get caught, the other two would still be safe,” said the samurai. The tyrant then noticed that Mori and the others were wearing different armor and carrying better weapons. Weapons made from Nyronian.

“We borrowed them from the village. The elders made them for us a long time ago. We just never used them until now,” said Richard.

“Why now?”

“When meeting you, one cannot be too careful,” said Kanatakon: ha. Minutes later, Hera returns with the mage, still beaten and badly bruised. She then threw him down at Richard’s feet.

“You have the mage, now the stone, please.”

“Hold on.” Richard knelt and inspected the mage. He saw all the busies and cuts inflicted all over the man’s body. Leaning into the mages ear, Richard whispered something softly to him. The mage then lifts his head and slowly raises himself.

As he got to his feet, the sheer pain he endured rippled throughout his body. His legs could not hold his beaten body and began to shake. Richard tells Mori and Kanatakon: ha to help the mage. As both humans proper the mage over their shoulders, Richard glared once more at Kairos.

“We take the mage outside to the courtyard, with the stone. Once he has created the portal, we will leave him the stone. That is final.” Kairos walked even closer to the human.

“You ask for too much, Richard. I would like me stone now.”

“You will have them shortly. You have been searching for them for years. You are telling me you can’t just wait a few more minutes?”

“My warlords go with you, final offer.” Richard knew if he kept pressuring Kairos, it would derail the whole plan. He agreed to his terms. Taking the mage, Richard and the company bowed before Kairos before leaving the throne room, Descartes by the other warlords.

“What do we do now?” whispered Decimus.

“Wait until my signal,” replied Richard. As they all made their way to the courtyard, Amyntas tells Tyra to have her horn ready. Tyra clutches it underneath her robe. Reaching their destination, Richard and the others stop. They then turn around and face the warlords.

Zeus and the remanding warlords told them to make it quick. Richard looks at the mage and gives him a nod. Taking in a deep breath, the mage began to recite a mantra. Suddenly a glowing yellow light started to appear in front of them. It grew larger and brighter. At first, the warlords did not seem to care, but just then, Zeus noticed something odd about this mantra. His eyes soon widen upon the realization.

“Its a Sonic blast.”

“NOW!” yelled Richard. The mage finished his chant, and suddenly the yellow energy explodes, sending the soldiers and the warlords flying back ways into the castle.

Richard and his companions draw their weapons while Amyntas and the others pull off their disguises. Tyra reaches for her horn, let out a mighty sound. Then on command, Avalon, Vortiger, Margret, and the rest of the army appear from the secret entrance. As they began to fill in the courtyard, the warlords and soldiers got back to their feet.

“Charge!!!” both sides yelled.

The battle of Castle Olympus has begun.

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