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Legends of Amacia Srandi: Last Bastion of the Caverias

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With Hannibal having secured the help of the Kings of Amacia in his conflict with the Emperor in book 10, he now has to unlock the secrets of the Caverias locked inside the Fortress of Srandi where Thoth Caverias made his last stand in the 1st Age against the original Emperor. Many dark secrets about the ultimate fall of the Caverias lie within Srandi that Hannibal and his friends and family must confront that will once again challenge their perception of reality. However, as he recovers from the trials in Poseidia where he won the confidence of the Kings there, the mysterious Surtur tries to interfere in Hannibal’s task, seeking to gain the power of the cursed Vendo in their Nameless City. This sweeps Hannibal up into an unexpected diversion that conspires to keep him away from Srandi. Will he upset Surtur’s plot and open Srandi, laying open the dark secrets from the final confrontation between Thoth and the 1st Emperor Bolthor, or will the Dark Powers stop Hannibal from revealing the truth of the Calamity? Read on to find out.

Scifi / Fantasy
Age Rating:

Chapter 1: The Exiles of Poseidia

Enoch, Elias, and Nemesis stared in fearful awe at Lord Tau, Samantha, Draco, Serge, and the gathering of over two hundred hybrids deposited in the portal chamber with Hannibal and Selina by Cerrelius’ Pillar of Light. As the disorientation of the teleportation from Poseidia wore off, the hybrids on the main floor clustered in the middle with their warriors making a protective perimeter around the civilians. Even though they heard Cerrelius’ declaration a few moments before via his holographic image that they were safe and that their exile had ended, they were still very confused and deeply frightened at their abrupt unexpected abduction from their shelters by Cerrelius’ Pillar of Light teleportation mechanism. Moments later, Joshua rushed into the portal chamber alongside of Carver the Cimmerian, General Hadiff, Col. Commora, and General Gulez, with a fully armed company of security personnel having been alerted to the unknown incoming arrivals by Nemesis. Right behind the security company was Leila being pushed in her wheelchair by Josephine, Ana, Xavier, and Amelia who was still learning to use her prosthetics. Next came Kida and Nathanael, who like Amelia was still learning to use his prosthetics, along with Electra...who had Emily and Rachel with her. Harry and Hannibal’s original team followed with those Joshua gave Hannibal to be his personal guard. Kusanagi and Liam entered with them along with Izanami, Lola, Tasha, and Jasmine, followed by Jennifer, Elle, Emma, and Andrew. The security company under Joshua and Carver, whom Magnus had left in charge as the security chief while he was on his mission in Stygia, instantly formed a perimeter with weapons ready, blocking access to the only exit with all the others interspersed with them. General Hadiff, Col. Commora, General Gulez, Josephine, Leila, Ana, Xavier, Amelia, Kida, Jennifer, and Kusanagi with Liam immediately moved to front of the security perimeter to get a clear view of the newcomers.

The sudden rush of seemingly hostile armed individuals caused further chaos in the hybrids and their warriors prepared to fight, preparing to draw their weapons. When Hannibal saw this, he shouted urgently, “Stop! Put your weapons down! They’re here at my invitation! Don’t hurt them!” He rushed to the edge of the portal platform raising his hands in a peace gesture, saying, “Please, everyone calm down and listen to me. I can explain this! There’s no need to shed blood here.”

Tau saw the uproar about to become inescapably violent so he stepped up beside Hannibal and roared so loud it got everyone’s attention. Gasps of fright escaped the lips from both sides. Leila’s eyes grew wide as she saw Tau. “Merciful Ancient of Days,” she breathed to those around her, fully intimidated by Tau’s impressive display and fearsome stature, “A Lionel; I never thought I’d actually see one! They were mythical even in my time!”

“Gods, he’s magnificent,” Josephine whispered in awe.

“That’s better,” Tau growled gruffly. “Now that I have your attention, put away your weapons, my warriors. I will not have you upsetting the alliance I have just sealed with the Beowulf by you going off half-cocked without understanding what’s happened to us.”

“That goes for my people too,” Hannibal ordered bluntly. “Joshua, Carver, this show of force is not needed. Lower your weapons. That’s an order. These people are here by my invitation at the order of the Almighty Himself. We will explain what’s going on if everyone will just calm down and act like rational beings, which I know we all are.”

Joshua looked to the security company and ordered cautiously, “All right; lower and stow your weapons.” Upon closely regarding the crowd of fearful hybrids, and seeing their panic, both Joshua and Carver saw they were no real threat in their present state of fearful confusion. Joshua whispered something to Carver and he nodded, keeping his eagle Cimmerian eyes on the entire group. Stepping forward a couple of steps, Joshua raised his hands slowly in a peace gesture, saying, “Please, forgive our rude welcome. We mean you no harm, but because you came in so suddenly without warning, we suspected the worst. After all, we are at war with the Emperor and feared he’s figured out how to circumvent our security measures. We can ill afford to lower our guard because of that fact so please, forgive our frosty, somewhat rude welcome. We apologize if we alarmed you.” His cautious words seemed to settle the crowd and lessen the tension with their warriors, who hesitantly lowered their weapons when they saw the security detail put away their weapons.

Looking up at Hannibal on the portal platform, Joshua said with some irritation, “You should have warned us you were bringing in new allies, Hannibal. We thought the Emperor had somehow found us and breeched our security measures. Carver and I hardly had time to call up the full security detail thinking the worst had happened.”

“Sorry about that, Joshua, Carver,” Hannibal stated apologetically to both men, “But our means of transport was out of my hands. Cerrelius is the one who snatched all these people when he teleported us with the Pillar. The warp storm got so bad Elias was unable to make contact with our portal. Had he not acted, these people would have perished in the storm that was bearing down on us when Cerrelius grabbed us all.”

“I didn’t know,” Joshua admitted. “I’ve been busy helping train the people. Forgive me, milord.”

“It’s okay,” Hannibal replied with a sober smile, seeing the crisis subsiding. “You acted appropriately, and I commend both you and Carver for holding back when you got here, but now that everyone seems to be calming down, I think it’s time to tell everyone what’s happening here.”

“Indeed it is,” Draco agreed, walking up beside Tau and gently setting the pummel end of his large spear-shaped scepter on the deck. “Time is very short and you all still have much to do.”

A fearful rumble raced through the exiles at the sight of Draco and those who had entered with Joshua and Carver. Seeing this, Tau raised his hands, saying, “Calm down, everyone. Lord Draco will not hurt you. He’s a friend to both our peoples.”

“What is he?” a hesitant voice rang out from the hybrids, plainly fearful of Draco. The question also raced through the security detail who rumbled approvingly at the question.

Josephine leaned down and whispered into Leila’s ear, “Can you believe this? First a Lionel, and now a drakenite; that’s a real living drakenite, Leila. I haven’t seen one since the Battle of Drakonia.”

“I know,” Leila replied softly in fearful awe of Draco.

“I think introductions are in order now,” Serge rumbled, padding up beside Hannibal, standing between him and Tau. “They fear us because they don’t know who we are and that we’re friends.”

Astonished whispers raced through the crowd when Serge didn’t attack Tau and Hannibal as he approached them. They also became even more amazed when Serge spoke audibly and intelligently. “The giant saber cat speaks,” the whispers from the Exiles declared in utter astonishment. “Who is he? How can he speak?”

“I agree,” Enoch called out from behind the control panel with Nemesis and Elias. “I’d like to know who you’ve brought into my house, little brother. You’ve really outdone yourself this time.”

Hannibal chuckled warmly glancing at Enoch, saying, “I guess I did, but what do you expect from a palaver with literally the most powerful beings on this planet.”

Nemesis’ eyebrow rose and he asked, “What do you mean exactly?”

“Let’s just say the Kings I met in Poseidia are on par with Cerrelius, being the first of their individual species. The King of the Sands has literally lived since life first appeared on this planet. He’s as old as Cerrelius and nearly as powerful. You no doubt saw him while monitoring what was going on.”

“We did indeed,” Nemesis rumbled. “The god-worm we saw is undeniably the largest and most ancient god-worm I’ve ever seen. Rumors of a titan god-worm the size of a mountain roaming the sands of Tartarus even reached the Emperor, but it’s never been seen...until now. You say that god-worm is the legendary King of the Sands...the true ruler of Tartarus?”

“Yes,” Hannibal answered. “He is and Draco can confirm this for only Draco has seen the King of the Sands before. No one else has seen him since the early days of the Days of Darkness in the 1st Age. The fact he chose to reveal himself now is a tremendous sign.”

“That it is,” Draco stated soberly, gesturing elegantly to Hannibal with his clawed hand as he continued. “What is even more significant is that this human here is the first since the legendary Ragnar Omicron Caverias to actually touch him and not be destroyed. It’s the highest of honors to be allowed to commune in person with the King of the Sands and not be devoured by him. No one should have any doubt left as to who and what this human is. He is the Last Caverias for he has fulfilled the prophecies to the letter, including the part where he makes peace with the legendary rulers of the creatures of Amacia. He just finished doing that in Poseidia. I am a witness to it, as is Lord Tau here, his daughter Tora, and you...his people. I saw this human do several things only the most powerful of the Elder gods of the 1st Age could do. He bested two very powerful Dark Titans inside of twenty-four hours using the power imbued to him by the Almighty Ancient of Days. His actions directly led to your freedom and now you all have the backing needed to take down the Dark Emperor of the Blister Fields who is directly responsible for your condition and exile.”

Hannibal raised a hand and interrupted Draco, saying, “Wait a second, Draco. These good people don’t need to be preached to. They’re just as intelligent as you and have a pretty good bead on things. I can see it, so let’s not insult their intelligence. What we do need to do is to get everyone acquainted since we’re all friends here and get them up to speed on what’s going on.”

“You’re quite correct,” Tau agreed as Samantha walked up beside him. “We’re not blind to the prophecies or to what the Emperor is doing. Therefore, now that everyone has calmed down, let’s start over with proper introductions.”

“Lord Tau, who’re these strange people and creatures?” an elderly voice dripping with great authority came from the center of the exile group, “Can we truly trust them after we were abducted so abruptly without warning?”

Hannibal instantly honed in on the voice, seeing an ancient lion-man hybrid with a long snow-white mane standing twelve feet tall leaning heavily on what appeared to be a shaman’s staff fourteen feet long similar in construction to Shadizar Kahn’s scepter with a twenty-inch long milky crystal spearhead. He wore a strange mix of golden chain mail and plate armor along with leather pants and a golden headband. The ancient hybrid exuded an aura of great intelligence, power, and authority that Hannibal instantly noticed. Focusing in on the individual, Hannibal answered, “That is a very good question, my ancient friend. May I have the honor of your name?”

“This is Assad Zhi, our resident shaman and leader of the council of elders,” Tau reported. “He’s also my great grandfather who has seen many things I have not due to his great age. He doesn’t speak often, but when he does, it’s very wise to heed his words for he’s never wrong. In fact, he’s the one who insisted I come to Poseidon’s Square to meet you when I did.”

“Really,” Hannibal replied with rising curiosity. “Now that’s very interesting. Master Zhi, it’s a great honor to meet you sir. Are you the Almighty’s representative to your people?”

“I am, young human,” Assad answered coolly with a raised eyebrow. “How did you know?”

“I sensed it,” Hannibal stated, walking down to the main floor and walking boldly to the crowd of exiles, stopping ten feet from the line of their warriors. “I know those of the Light when I encounter them, just as I can sense those infested by the Darkness because of my past as an unwitting agent of that Darkness. You, however, are not of the Darkness, but a prophet of the Light and the Most High. I can clearly see you’re a powerful sage like Master Kusanagi of Cushar who stands there with my present security chiefs Joshua and Carver the Cimmerian. They’re standing in right now for my true chief of security, the seventh gen prototype Xenian Magnus who is presently engaged in a critical operation to secure and eliminate the Emperor’s fleet of deadly starships in Stygia along with a crack team of warriors. However, we can talk of that later. I can see you’re also a powerful prophet like the late Nicodemus of Arionath, whom died in my arms when I rescued my Lynxian wife Selina from the Black Fortress a few weeks ago while I was still a mutated woman. Selina stands there on the portal platform with Lord Draco, Serge, Lord Tau, and his daughter. Please come forward and meet our guest, Selina.”

Gasps of fearful astonishment raced through the exiles at Hannibal’s words, especially when Selina descended to the main floor and walked up beside him, grasping his hand in a show of solidarity. “Hannibal speaks the truth,” Selina purred loudly in a calming tone that had an instant positive effect on the exiles. “I am Selina Milineus Caverias of Kaitia, wife of this human who has saved my life more times than I can count. You are all welcome here, my friends.”

Assad’s eyes grew wide as he pushed forward through the crowd of exiles, who made a path for him as he approached Hannibal. When the security personnel saw this, they instantly formed a picket line, causing the hybrid warriors to bristle and place their hands on their weapons without drawing them. Hannibal saw this and instantly called out to the security personnel on the picket line, saying, “Stand down guys and let him pass,” Hannibal ordered sternly, “Master Zhi is no threat to us. Let him approach.” The security personnel parted with a murmur and let Assad walk directly to Hannibal and Selina as they stood at the bottom of the steps leading up on the portal platform. Hannibal stepped forward with Selina, intercepting the ancient Lionel sage at the line of the hybrid warriors, who watched him and Selina very closely with some concern and smoldering distrust. Assad, on the other hand, pushed through their line fearlessly until he stood within arm’s reach of Hannibal and Selina, setting the pummel end of his scepter down with enough force it echoed through the portal chamber.

Assad scrutinized the pair with great interest for a few tense moments with a solemn stern scowl, his bright hazel eyes blazing as he seemed to see Hannibal and Selina’s very souls. Hannibal nodded slowly to Assad with a sober smile, knowing the ancient Lionel was testing him telepathically. Assad’s eyes suddenly lit up with delight as a knowing smirk crossed his ancient face. Returning the nod solemnly, he declared, “At last, we see each other truly, son of Ragnar Omicron of the Silver Eyes. You have finally come as the prophets of old foretold.” He dropped to one knee and bowed to Hannibal, saying, “We thank you, milord for ending our exile as the Almighty said you would. We are forever in your debt and at your service, milord.”

“Please, Master Zhi; do not bow to me,” Hannibal pleaded, holding out his hands in a peace gesture, palms open and forward to Assad. “Like you, I am but a humble servant of the Almighty Ancient of Days. We are brothers in the Lord. Worship the Almighty Ancient of Days, not me. Only He is worthy of our worship and adoration.”

“You greatly honor me, milord,” Assad replied looking up and making eye contact with Hannibal. “You are indeed what the Almighty told me you’d be, though you still have some rough edges that still need honing. I can clearly see this.”

When Assad struggled to rise, Hannibal instantly stepped forward, helping him up. This act caused the hybrid warrior exiles to rumble nervously, some closest to Assad slowly inching towards Hannibal with hostile intentions. Assad sensed this and turned his head to the warriors with a fierce growl as Hannibal assisted him, snarling, “Keep you place, you rebellious cubs. Do you DARE to attack the Last Caverias when he proffers benign assistance to me in good faith? Do you not trust this human after seeing him make peace with the great Kings of Amacia and destroying the terrible Tyrant Shiargoriath? You shame yourselves and our people.”

“Please, don’t be so hard on them, Master Zhi,” Hannibal pleaded earnestly, stepping back after helping Assad to his feet, “I can understand why they moved when I helped you up. I still must earn their trust just as I had to earn the trust of the people of Cushar, Arionath, and Cimmeria.” He looked to the warriors who had thought to attack Hannibal for touching Assad, saying, “You do your elder proud by being so protective of him, my friends. It’s a commendable trait, but as you see, I meant no harm to him or you. I merely saw Master Zhi needed a helping hand to stand up, so I came to his assistance. I’d do the same for any of you. There’s no need to be suspicious of me. All I ask is that you allow my friends and me the chance to gain your trust. We’re all on the same side here.”

“Spoken like the true king of the Sapphire Throne,” Assad declared, turning to face the exiles, particularly the warriors who had thought to attack Hannibal. “My people, this human here is what he claims to be. He is the Last Caverias and is our friend.” He then turned back to Hannibal and looked down at him, adding, “However, there is a lingering doubt in my mind. You proved yourself to the Kings of Amacia. Will you prove yourself to me as you did to them? Show me as you showed them.”

“Absolutely,” Hannibal replied instantly, “I’d be honored to show you what I showed them if you wish it. I have already done this with both Serge and Lord Draco. It’s only proper that both you and Lord Tau see me the way the other Kings saw me. Lord Tau, please come down here so that I may show you at the same time I show Master Zhi.”

“As you wish, milord,” Tau answered, walking to where Hannibal and Assad stood. In moments, he loomed over Hannibal, looking down at him. “What do you need to perform this?” he asked.

“I will not suffer neither of you to kneel to me, so what I want you both to do is touch me on the head,” Hannibal instructed, “I, in turn, will hold on to your wrists as I show you what I am the way I showed the Kings.”

“Nonsense,” Assad scoffed, “You are the Last Caverias. We will gladly kneel to you for you are worthy of that honor. Furthermore, I sense you wish to touch our temples to impart this information. Physically touching us on the head in that manner is your most secure means of information transfer. Am I correct?”

Hannibal smiled, nodding slowly, saying, “You got me. That’s right, but I didn’t want you to kneel again after seeing the trouble you had rising, Master Zhi.”

“Please, call me Assad, and it’s not a big deal,” Assad declared, “If it assists you in imparting the information we need to see, it’s worth it.”

“Hannibal, I might have a solution,” Selina called out. “Why don’t you stand on the steps and let them approach you from below. That way their great stature is not a hindrance.”

“Excellent idea, princess,” Hannibal beamed. “Please, come on over here to the steps, my friends so we can do this.” He quickly moved to the steps, mounting five steps before turning around to see Selina taking Assad gently by the left arm and leading him through the security line to Hannibal. Tau walked beside Assad on the right, hovering close to the ancient Lionel.

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