Chapter Sixteen: Reunited
A muzzled hush held the main hall of Vasilios’ home captive, Kaydence and the rest had been summoned around the large thick-wooded table despite Ida and Mayfel blatantly refusing.
Mayfel hadn’t looked in Ida’s general direction ever since he rejoined them, as for Ida, she couldn’t take her scowling eyes off of Vasilios who sat sophisticatedly eating a conjured up roast dinner.
“How did you do that exactly? I thought your powers were to do with mind-reading, not for summoning a chicken dinner” Evan had asked.
“With my increased power, I have the ability to summon things I can picture clearly now and then. It does not stretch to complex things as of yet, but meals are relatively simple”
The lit candles around the room continuously caught Kaydences eye, their flickering flames creating images of moving shadows in the corners of his eyes
The wax of the candles held in the chandelier of bone hanging above them cascaded down over the holders and from the chandelier itself like stalactites which was fitting considering their current location.
Echoing thuds sped down the hallway the doors to the main hall slamming open as a tremendous gust of wind forced its way into the cavern, scenting the room with smoke.
Footsteps clacked down the corridor from the entrance, each one getting louder and louder as they grew closer and closer until in walked Vallen Harkhallow, slicking back his wet hair.
“I apologise for my late arrival, I got caught up in a storm,” he said nonchalantly, his eyes falling on the others with Vasilios “I wasn’t aware we would be having guests”
“I would like you all to meet, Vallen Harkhallow. Vallen this is my late wife Ida and my son Erabos, as for the others they seem to be in the company of your son”
“I gathered the boy was related to you, he shares your looks” Vallen replied.
“Polite, as always. I kept your meal warm”
Taking up the free sat beside Vallen, Vasilios dug into his meal his eyes, however, locked with Kaydences as he greedily devoured the food before him.
Swallowing the mouthful and wiping his lips with the back of his hand Vallen asked “Why are you here?”
“The creatures you call Sea Wraiths are poisoning Salatia” Ida muttered.
“Ah yes, impressive are they not? I not long ago checked on our latest deployment in The City Of Embers and Ashrise” he stated proudly.
“What do you mean by latest deployment? There’ve been no reports of Sea Wraiths in Alden’s direction” Kaydence said
Meeting his eyes again, Vallen’s hand reached into his sodden, coat pocket that rested on the back of his seat.
The rectangular shard of clear crystal clattered across the table in Kaydences direction, Vallen’s hand settling on the table's surface.
Peering inside Kaydence could see a creature he knew to be native to Alden’s warm climate, a scorpion he remembered the book naming them as, except the one in his hand, was much more different than the images in the book.
The scorpions shielded armour illuminated in red and orange in colour, the wings sprouting from his back resembling that of a dragonfly in a pale shade of blue, the intricate patterns like a rugged jigsaw.
“We call them Embers. They are nocturnal creatures that, when the sun falls, will begin to glow from their telson's. Scorpions, naturally, are venomous, but with Vasilios’ engineering, they have become even more so. One sting from one of these will leave one in unimaginable pain, you see, it is not the venom that kills them, if anything it aids the pain as flames burn them from the inside out.”
“That is barbaric” Ida spat.
Kaydence couldn’t say for sure what the others were feeling but, he could speak for himself and say that he felt utterly sickened to the stomach.
The new deployment would be catastrophic, there was no knowing whether the modified animals would remain in their original areas or whether, like the Sea Wraiths, would travel and stay to the other lands.
Arravan was in enough difficulty without his father and new companion surging the world with newfound dangers only they could control.
“You will both be returning with us to Evangelis, there are things we must sort out such as how you will fix all of this” she insisted despite their lack of response towards her, their attentions on their meals instead.
“Have you told her of its irreversible nature?” Vallen asked almost like a secretary reminding their boss of an upcoming meeting.
A deep, grumbling sigh rumbled from Vasilios as his knife and fork clattered to his silver platter.
“I have, but she is a stubborn soul, as are the rest. I would much rather be eating in peace instead of listening to her incessant nagging”
“But there has to be a way” Fraya mentioned from further down the table.
“Why is it, children never listen to an adults word. My dear faeling, I purposefully made the magic irreversible. We are not yet finished and have only recently completed our newest creations” he said.
“Do they have anything to do with those big cylinder tanks in the rooms down the hall?” Mayfel asked with a firm voice.
Vallen’s gin pried a similar one from Vasilios although the snake-eyed man seemed to be smiling more at the fact Vallen was than the reasoning behind Vallen’s grin, to begin with.
“You are a smart one, I can see why my son likes you” Vallen started, gifting Kaydence with a look he didn’t appreciate “We call them Wisps in the tongue of humankind, although Vasilios prefers their fae name, Maniplos”
“They are a combination of sirens and nymphs. The interesting thing about the Maniplos is that they remain invisible at all times, that is unless they are about to kill you, then they will assume any form to lure you in, like a sirens song. Obviously, Vallen and I have conducted tests of trial and error to properly understand their abilities, like the rest”
Vallen continued on from Vasilios, his companion seemingly happy to let him proceed as he scooped some more food into his mouth, his serpent tongue curling around the tines of his fork.
“There had to be sacrifices, of course, people of this realm had to be selected for such an honour. All was well with the power from the Mother Tree, until it was cut off, what was it that happened?”
Ida gritted her teeth, the tree as well as her realm was still very much a sore subject which was understandable, it’d be the same had Arravan met its end.
“I cannot believe that you, the once known protector of this realm used living people like rodents to experiment on. You are a monster Vasilios, a truly hideous beast” she said with such deep hatred that it all but shook her being.
“Lives are expendable, would you be so upset if I’d used humans instead? Honestly Ida you need to learn to let things go” Vasilios said almost sounding worried.
“How come none of the creatures try to kill you?” Evan directed to Vallen.
“Because I prevent them. My magic created them and so it flows through them, if they were to attack me or Vallen, who my magic protects, then it would be like attacking themselves.”
“The Sea Wraiths, how did you get them into the water, there is no possible way you could have carried them” Fraya noted.
Vallen held up a cylinder capsule between his thumb and index finger, the surface made of what appeared to be average stone one could find in a forest, by a beach or in the cobblestone of Crestfold.
Kaydence didn’t understand what his father was trying to tell them and for a good, long minute he presumed he’d entirely lost his mind, not that he hadn’t already done so before convening with Vasilios who was in no way a preferable influence.
“One must simply add it to water, from there it will dissolve and the magic will speed up the growth of the modified seaweed inside. It takes only a matter of hours for it to reach its fullest potential, something along the lines of a bird hatching from an egg fully grown.” Vallen explained.
“And all of this is for what reason exactly?” Mayfel asked.
Vallen slid his chair back before regally rising, hiss cape tumbling from the chair as the bottom hem brushed the floor.
“The world has been deprived of magic for too long and so magic has had no need to change. We need to think more like mundanes and push beyond the boundaries despite the danger so that magic and power can evolve”
“You sound like Bregan” Mayfel accused him bitterly.
“Bregan was an imbecile. His plan would never have worked, especially with that flimsy spellbook he wanted. Killing the fae would have gotten him nowhere and his crazed desires would not have gotten him the throne. The human population wouldn’t have obeyed his rules, even with a crown upon his brow. They have their own way of life which is reason enough for coexistence to be out of the question”
“How is it, you know so much about absolutely everything?” Mayfel said.
“Vallen has been keeping a close eye and ear on the world outside of my realm”
“The spell book” Erabos spoke up addressing his father who he had little to do with since they arrived “It did not seem so flimsy, if you has seen what Bregan Banshaw did with just one page then you would choose your words more wisely”
“I am well aware of what spell was used, one to strengthen a life force and connect two together. I can sense the same bond in this very room, although weakened” he looked from Kaydence to Mayfel with knowing eyes “Bregan, of course, instead of tying himself to another bing, tied himself to the stone. As much as he fed off of the stone’s power, it too fed off of him in a vicious cycle and a painful one at that”
“It was in no way feeble. Don’t try to play it down when you weren’t even there!” Kaydence yelled in an outburst.
“Son, quieten down” Vallen attempted but it only riled Kaydence up more.
“Don’t son me, you are the furthest thing from a father. Bregan was a better parent than you”
Stepping towards his throne, his plate picked clean of every morsel of food, Vasilios called out across the room, his voice carrying authority and the demand for attention “Enough bickering! I have had quite enough of all of you but I can sense there are still questions to be answered. I shall say this once and not again so listen closely. I wish for coexistence of sorts, I can obtain any form of higher position with my abilities ”
“What abilities?” Evan asked
“My creations are only a small sample of what I am capable of. Being connected to so many sources of power I am unstoppable and if all the stones were to be placed in their rightful spots, then nothing would stand in my way. There would be no need for a human government or kings and queens. I would become a God among mortals.”
“There are no such things as gods, if there were then they would have stopped the wars and saved innocent lives.” Kaydence objected “And where do you fit into all of this?” he asked Vallen staring him straight in the eyes as he did so.
His father's estranged face holding no parental comfort Bregan’s had, he didn’t know this man that claimed to be his father, he had no recollection of him as a child and even now he refused to accept him as anything but an enemy and stranger.
“Vasilios has promised me my share”
“And you believe him?” he said
“I have no reason not to. Afterall, my own sons went against me and had me locked up. But you as well as both humans and fae, will regret judging someone too quickly when you witness the magnitude of change that time will bring.”
“Madness” Ida growled her lips sneering like a hound.
“Ida, you must have found some other words in a dictionary through your lifetime, so if you would please stop repeating things like a broken record and be more creative with your insults.”
“You proteinaceous, condescending worm. How dare you speak to me like some child. You are nothing but a coward lost in your own imaginary vision of what you want the world to be”
“Of course, you would call me that. You were always closed-minded and may I add, consumed by the oath of the tree, almost to the point where you began to neglect our son” he noted, a subtle ounce of enjoyment in his voice as if he was amused with the way Ida fought back as if that was what he planned and she was playing right into his hand.
“Lies! It was you who neglected my son! Always speaking of dark magic and necromancy!” she hollered in response. “It is not something to put into a boys head!”
“Erabos is special, he was from the moment he was born. He has abilities only a few others possess, myself included and he is capable of extraordinary things but has been denied the chance to discover them. Had he grown up with me and not you, Erabos wouldn’t have become brainwashed into believing the entire we look after the tree, it looks after us hogwash”
“What am I capable of?” Erabos asked, leaving the table and striding towards his mother who had rather abruptly reached the steps before the argument had begun, he went past her and came to a stop on the middle step to the podium.
“Erabos, come down from there” Ida demanded with a soft edge of pleading.
“What an inquisitive fellow” he grinned “You already know of your ability to walk through minds and manipulate them at your will, I trust?”
“Mother taught me to control it,” he said.
“You can do much more than that. My boy, whatever you have an idea of is possible it can become a reality if you were to expand your abilities to their fullest potential. I know that you use your powers and I also know that you have pushed beyond what anyone, like your mother, usually would, I can feel the same power that surges through me also within your veins. We are one and the same, become stronger and let yourself draw power from the unlimited source that will soon take over every crevice of the world.” he preached, his arms splayed wide as if to indicate to the power flowing in the very dust that hung in the air.
It was true, Kaydence thought, belief really does drive one to extremes.
“And as for you two” Vasilios spoke again, his eyes locking Mayfel and Fraya in his watchful gaze “Seers” he states but cocks a brow settling both eyes on Mayfel “You, your powers are dim”
“I am only half seer”
“That explains it. Nevertheless, both of you, even with your limitations boy, can see further into the past and future if you were to allow the power in. have you never wondered what the beginning of time looked like? How it all came to be? I can show you”
“So you can read minds?” Evan said.
Sighing in irk, Vasilios glumly met Evan’s eyes from across the room “Humans really are dull, always asking questions and never hearing with their brains. Clearly, evolution has not taken a liking to you even after all these centuries, your minds are still so malleable as they were back then. To answer your over-asked question, yes, I do read minds” he said rising from the throne, his hands clasping together behind his back and keeping his eyes honed in on Evan, Vasilios took one step forwards, followed by another in a taunting metronomic beat past Ida and Erabos as if they weren’t there.
“I can also manipulate the minds of others, bend them to my will with a simple look. I can make them do whatever I want for as long as I want without them ever knowing” he finished with coming to a stop behind his empty chair at the dinner table, his hands resting on the polished wooden back.
“Brilliant” Evan muttered.
“So is Vallen Harkhallow here willing? Or did you work your influential ways again?” Ida called over to him.
“Why don’t you look for yourself Domina De Arboribus, there is no enchantment in his eyes”
Landing his hand down on the back of the chair, his silver rings moulded in the shapes of ravens with red gemstone eyes, snakes curling around his fingers and some consisting of numerous miniature silver bones all link together like a chain, the metal clacked against the hard surface.
Vasilios’ body spun around, his cape swirling about his knees as he did so, a blur of gold, black, white and green.
“What do you say, my son? Will you join me?”
“I am afraid not, I do not like choosing sides but I admittedly side with mother on this matter”
“You will see the truth soon enough and you like the others will regret your choices”
Spinning back to the table his eyes fell once again to Mayfel and Fraya, “How about the both of you? Will you join me?”
As she opened her mouth to respond, Vasilios held up his hand silencing Fraya “Before you answer my question, I have something else that might help your decision become easier to make. I know that during the battle of Crestfold as well as the one that took place in mater Arbor was a trying time and that many of you sat at this table lost someone you knew” he said looking to Mayfel in particular. “The other few have lost other things or people throughout their lives,” he said next as his eyes redirected to Fraya.
“My magic can grant a lot of varying wishes, if you two seers accept the power and allow me to mentor you, then I will allow you to choose one person or thing dear to you that you lost”
“Do not tell me you are now speaking of necromancy. Do not tell me you have already tried it Vasilios, that goes beyond everything!” she barked, her shattering voice echoing off the cavern walls.
“I have indeed, successfully I might add”
“Who?” she roared.
“Bring her” was all he said in response although not being directed to Ida but to Vallen who nodded and politely excused himself from the table, his chair shrieking in protest as it was pushed backwards.
The sound reminded Kaydence of the gruesome birds above them.
“You have two choices, either you and Vallen Harkhallow return to Evangelis with us where you will be trialled, or I can be rid of you here and now” Ida snapped.
“You will have to kill me then I am afraid,” he said nonchalantly “I am not going anywhere and besides as I said before, it will solve nothing. If anything you will need me alive because if there is any way of stopping it, then you’ll need me alive.”
Vallen returned to the room, a woman behind him to which no one recognised.
Her hands were bound in iron cuffs as were her ankles giving her feet no leeway for movement besides a slow shuffle.
The ladies eyes seemed hollow as if her soul hadn’t returned with her consciousness.
But it all changed when her eyes fell upon the table.
Her tear-brimming eyes met Kaydences, the droplets soon spilling over and toppled down her rosy cheeks.
“Everyone I would like for you to meet Elena Weylin. Or as one of you may know her, Elena Harkhallow”