Continumental Stories: Volume 1

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Ghezar's Last

It was in Rendesonal, in the Halls of Listern where Ghezar grew impatient.

‘After all the sendiums I’ve spent as Guardian, how could this darkness have clouded Anselopha without my ears hearing about it?’ How could I have let this happen? Ghezar struggled to make sense of it.

‘It is not the fault of any,’ said Cepheus, Commander of the Panthcardians. ‘This unnatural phenomenon has plagued not just our city, but that of countless regions of this world. I have, myself, heard of towns being struck, beings whom have been taken from their very homes in the clear of day and what’s more, this smoke has been most troublesome, causing devastation, defiling monuments, abducting Bearers, causing rifts across the Matter-Fabric and challenging those who seek to guard all that is good in this world, as if someone or something is orchestrating this evil.’

‘That is why I had no choice but to impose a curfew,’ Ghezar spat. ‘The streets are overrun and now those who swore oaths to guard the Matter-Fabric are largely corrupt, with the line of Bearers faltering. I stand before you, rendered powerless. In spite of that, I shall protect each and every being in my homeland, as my given right as Guardian allows me. My only warmth is that I hold the seat and for as long as I still do the balance remains intact, no matter how thin it may be.’

The streets were no longer safe, even at day; beings were disappearing. Sightings of shadowy figures were said to lurk the city. No one had yet seen the true face of who was behind these insurmountable foes that stalked disobediently.

The citadel had been sealed off. Beings had been thumping at the gates for montressens, still Ghezar would not grant them access. He had to do what he could to protect the beings within his walls, and could not risk a stampede of those he could not tend to. No one was to leave or enter.

‘Beings have now lived in desolation for so long that it has become a part of their lives. I came to the seat to ensure their prosperity, but every corner is littered with those who seek to cause power struggles to heighten their superiority over others. Our citizens are enraged,’ Ghezar said.

‘Casa,’ Cepheus spoke. ‘I know that it is difficult, nonetheless, you must allow me to send for the Panthcardians to thwart the smoke. If we stand by and do nothing the citadel will ultimately fall.’

Cepheus was right. It was because of his Commander that Ghezar could keep the seat. Rebellion and wars had been threatened ever since the Masters were found dead and without the Panthcardians, Bearers would have been massacred, the weak and poor would have suffered. Anselopha would have been reduced to a breeding ground for villains, foes and monsters alike.

‘What of the Infinites? Can they not help?’

‘The Infinites relish in their addictions of escapism, having no foresight to act and never once having breached into our world, secluded comfortably in their ivory towers. What would you have me do?’ Ghezar wailed.

Cepheus rose up the steps, marching in line behind him were the Five; Idorn, Jendarah, Berenices, Sculptor & Virgo. ‘Have my men patrol the city, I will scour this place and maintain the safety of the beings.’

‘Let the word spread,’ said Ghezar. ‘The curfew, of which, extends to sunrise, no one is to leave their homes at night. Patrol the streets if you must, but do what you can to rid us of this dastardly shadow that is suffocating my domain.’

Cepheus placed a fist over his heart. The great doors opened to blinding light that the Guardian had to shield himself from. Silence was the only thing he could hear.

All Ghezar could do now was wait.

In the little town of Polusha, Antares had assembled most of the locals, those who couldn’t stand to see more people being taken.

Brent kicked a crate and leapt onto it. ‘For too long have we stood by and watched as our people disappear. How long has it passed and yet the citadel does not come to our need.’

An outcry from the locals broke out, beings were shouting their opinions of the Guardian who had abandoned them. Food was scarce and what provisions were left had been saved for the sick and the young.

Everywhere you went you could hear the sudden piercing screams. The instant you turned, another person was gone. It had been like this for montressens now. No one ever saw who the abductors were.

Brent had lost both of his parents and his sister. He had not slept since and it was all he could do to keep alert.

It was a struggle to contain these unnatural occurrences. The citadel had pledged armed forces, but those promises weren’t kept.

‘Who will save us?’ Brent debated.

‘The Guardian.’

‘The same Guardian who left us to defend ourselves? The one who has failed to summon his guards to help us get rid of the smoke?’ Brent hopped off the crate. ‘I will take word to the Guardian, urging him to send troops,’ he said, placing a hand on Josephine. ‘While we’re gone, make sure you show the smoke who the better fighter is.’

‘You know it’s me.’ Josephine blushed.

‘I don’t doubt it.’

‘I could always accompany you to the citadel,’ she volunteered.

‘No,’ said Brent. ‘If we want to feel safe in our own homes, if we want to have any sort of a normal life again, it is us, the people who must bare arms and strike fear to the smoke.’

With that Brent left.

Caitlin spread the map over the wooden table, the edges leaning over. She grabbed a salt pot, little stone figures and whatever else she could find laying around and arranged them over known sightings of the malevolent smoke.

‘Jaxon spotted one of the black clouds in the southern region,’ Fenton jabbed a finger on the Elixion Quarteron and circled.

‘It seems to be gaining closer to the citadel. What we need to do, is somehow harness one. Find out what it is and exploit its weakness.’

‘But how?’ Antares asked. ‘How do we catch smoke?’

The others looked from Caitlin, Fenton to Hendrick.

‘Suction pack.’ Came a mumble.

Heads turned to a youth who had been sitting quietly in the corner.

‘What did he say?’

‘Who said that?’

‘Isn’t that Caelum?’

Everyone knew the story. Caelum had an older brother called Magnus who was an novice inventor that most saw as an eccentric. Magnus was taken by the smoke. ‘Go on, Caelum.’ Antares encouraged.

Caelum looked agitated. He hadn’t expected anyone to hear. ‘Its just…’ he shuddered. ’Magnus was testing one of his inventions on the night he was … taken.’

Fenton motioned Caelum to sit beside them.

‘I was there,’ he carried on. ‘That night, it rained heavily, the smoke swirled ferociously. He carried a suction pack, strapped to his back. Magnus was manic. For a while, he was able to foil the smoke. I saw him wrestling with a sliver, the pack was consuming it. I could see the smoke quivering, like it was frightened.’

‘Nonsense.’

‘If that’s true then why had Magnus not defeated it that night?’

‘He––’ Caelum was lost for words.

‘What happened with the suction pack?’ Fenton spoke softly.

‘It was torn apart after the smoke took Magnus.’

‘Well that’s it then,’ said Antares. ‘There really is no way to stop them.’

‘Without the pack what chance do we have?’

‘Was the suction pack Magnus used that night the only one he created?’ Asked Caitlin.

Caelum slumped his shoulders. ‘I think so.’

Frowns followed.

‘What we need are Bearers.’

‘There are none left.’

‘Not here, that’s for sure.’

‘No,’ agreed Fenton. ‘Though surely there’s bound to be some at the citadel.’

‘A three days journey that is, and even then there is no guarantee that one can be found.’

‘Perhaps we could use the Luminositor.’ Caelum blurted, taking everyone by surprise.

Heads turned towards Caelum and for the first time, everyone was hung onto what he had to say. In the pause, they waited for Caelum to explain what it was. Caelum didn’t feel quite so alone anymore, it felt exhilarating.

‘Well don’t leave us waiting.’

‘Oh, right,’ he said. ‘The Luminositor emits a pulse of light, useful I reckon, to purge the smoke.’

‘Do you recall where your brother left it?’

‘Back home, somewhere.’

The decision to find the Luminositor was unanimous. The plan was simple: find it, seek out the closest disturbance of smoke and capture it. How hard could it be?

It took them almost to nightfall to get to the residence. Caelum showed Caitlin, Fenton and the others to Magnus’ creative room.

‘Woah.’

Every inch of the room had been stuffed with parts of things, wires and cables. There were many boxes on shelves and a ladder that could reach up almost as high. Workbenches lined the walls and they too had been cluttered with instruments, broken bits and an assortments of tools.

‘It’s going to take us a while, especially when we don’t even know what it looks like.’

‘Last time I saw it, before Magnus modified it,’ said Caelum. ‘It looked like a black duferlorn cube, he wore overcloaks that had patches which absorbed silverlight to prevent the smoke from coming into contact.’

‘If the Luminositor is as good as you tell us, then why did your brother take the suction pack instead?’

‘The Luminositor has a time delay,’ Caelum clarified. ‘He was going to tweak it as it kept jamming every so often.’

They searched for what seemed like an age of rooting through Magnus’ belongings. Caelum grew more dismal, he had given up and had decided to step outside, when he accidentally knocked over something that made a loud clang.

‘What in the name of the Masters was that?’

‘Found it,’ said Caelum. He bent down and pulled out a chest, wherein lay a range of newly modified suction packs labelled as “Smog Busters” and the Luminositor with several overcloaks.

Approaching the Fountain of Izaken they kept an observant look out for the smoke.

Piercing shrieks lingered in the air.

All around them things were being thrown all over the place, but with no visible presence. Voices, that didn’t belong to any of them, were heard as if the streets were filled with beings and then the suns blacked out: first Ziolin, Ilinez and then Freklin, and then the light recovered as if they had just experienced a momentary eclipse.

Immediately after this, the smoke swarmed in plain sight.

It was their mischievous nature to stir trouble and cause chaos and because of this, Jayce had enough. ‘Let’s show the smoke who the boss is.’ He gripped the tube and turned the dial on the Smog Buster.

The gang spread out as the smoke swam menacingly. It wasn’t much of a danger as just billows, it was when the smoke took form that things got a little trickier.

Jayce directed a tube and waved it about, attempting to catch onto a sliver of smoke which glided out of the way.

Bands of thick smoke twisted and formed a column, moving faster than they could follow.

The Smog Busters were doing their job but with meagre results.

The gang were covered in the darkness of black clouds. Not many had survived to tell the tale and as the gang were about to fight back, who knew how many would live to see tomorrow.

Caelum glanced up, he saw the smoke swirling into a whirlwind that edged dangerously close. Dust rose from the ground and blew up, higher and higher. It took great effort not to be swept away.

Jayce shouted something but his voice trailed.

It was starting to get harder to breathe, Caelum reached up, frozen as if he was paralysed. The smoke slithered. Caelum tried to move, but he was rendered immobile as he watched the smoke grab onto his forefinger as he tried to point. It had been his warning to the gang.

The smoke wrapped itself down Caelum’s arm and grew thicker as it channelled downwards, trying to engulf his body.

Caelum didn’t know how long it would take, but he knew that once the smoke covered him, it would be over. They would be defeated. Then what hope was there for the neighbouring towns. If the citadel was taken, then Anselopha would surely fall, blanketing the whole world in darkness.

Caelum watched as the smoke descended over the gang. He pulled against the strength of the smoke, trying to free his arm, he weaved this way and that, dodging slivers.

‘Watch your backs,’ Grayson shouted, but it was too late. Jayce watched hopelessly as a sliver caught his ankle and pulled him into a cloud.

Caitlin had managed to evade the smoke, she had reached a backstreet where her luck ran out as she faced a dead end.

A rush of air scattered what rubbish lay about. She could hear thuds in between the pounding of her heart which felt like it was going to rip through her chest. Whimpering, she tried to squeeze through, but then the smoke wrapped itself around her and she was devoured as its next victim.

Fenton, Grayson and two others switched on their Smog Busters and with success smoke began to be sucked into the tubes. Fenton noticed the sliver Grayson was drawing in and aimed his tube to tackle it. Caelum moved his tube closer too and the sliver ripped apart.

The smoke reacted violently, it picked up whatever it could in thick swirls and began throwing them at the gang who had no choice but to duck and cover.

Smoke laced itself around the Fountain of Izaken, the water had evaporated and was replaced by a pool of smoke that had filled the basin. It grabbed onto the Statue of Odia, shadowy tears seeped down from the eyes and crushed the head into fine pieces of stone. The head of Odia was flung, hitting Caelum hard.

Grayson turned Caelum over and saw a laceration split his eyebrow open. He was breathing, only barely.

Keegan held his tube firm, he pressed the big red button on the side of his Smog Buster and at once bolts of energy flared hitting the smoke, catching it in a net of sparks, cutting the smoke that was caught in its path.

This then gave Grayson an idea. He unbuttoned his overcloak and chucked it into the fountain. ‘Dump the packs.’ He told a confused Keegan.

The others did the same, but the forth, Quentin, was taken by surprise as the smoke slithered into his mouth and filled his lungs.

‘What now?’ said Keegan.

The smoke had focused its nest in the fountain. It thickened, engulfing their Smog Busters.

Grayson took out the trigger, if he was right, this could be just what they needed. He knew to keep in mind of the delay, but that shouldn’t matter. Grayson flung the Luminositor into the fountain.

The gang ran as fast as they could, hitting the ground. Grayson jumped on Caelum to cover him and flicked the switch.

With a great shockwave that felt like their skin was going to peel off, the Smog Busters in the Fountain of Izaken burst as the Luminositor charged and exploded.

Grayson dared to look up, dust was everywhere and as far as he could see the smoke had gone. They had done it. The Luminositor had torn in a fantastic burst of light that countered the smoke.

‘How did you––?’ said Keegan.

‘Genius,’ said Jayce, gobsmacked.

A single Smog Buster remained, a light shone on the top of the cylindrical tube indicating that it was full. Quentin had managed to capture a sliver of smoke before his lungs were filled.

Caitlin and a few others could not be found, they became casualties of the incursion. Grayson lit a lightglobe for each being that was taken. They would be remembered, he would make sure of that.

Now that they had figured out a way to vanquish the smoke, Grayson and some townspeople formed a union and set out to find more traces of the smoke, to get rid of it, once and for all.

Keegan had written their events in a letter and had given it to Caelum.

‘Make sure this gets to the citadel, they have to know how to get rid of the smoke. Oh, and Caelum, if you happen to see Brent make sure he knows.’

‘I will.’

Caelum had decided to go on his own. He took what supplies he needed and would meet Jaxon at the citadel.

Dark smoke swirled over the city gates, turning and spiralling through the air. So far weapons were rendered useless, the Panthcardians were large in number and had to handle the confusion and pandemonium. What beings had been left in the streets had ran for shelter, wherever they could find it.

Since reaching the citadel Brent had counted ninety-eight Panthcardian alone, yet now there were rows upon rows of more making their way to Rendesonal.

Brent, Alexa and a handful of beings crept through the narrow streets.

The gates were heavily guarded, Brent could not see any way of getting passed the Panthcardians.

‘Now what do we do?’ Alexa asked.

Jaxon tapped Brent on the shoulder and pointed to a waving Hendrick who beckoned. The beings shuffled, crouching down low, trying not to be seen.

‘I think I may have found a way in,’ said Hendrick. ‘Not far from here there is a door leading to tunnels that are used as a means of escape in times of crisis. We might be lucky enough to use the tunnels to get us into the citadel.’

Seeing no other way, Brent agreed that this would be their best chance. The beings made for the tunnel door. Luckily there were no Panthcardians currently in the vicinity, but even so they had to be as quick and as quiet as possible.

The small wooden tunnel door stood in their way. Jaxon took the sole of his boot and split the door in two. They crawled through and found themselves in tunnels that webbed under the city.

With no idea which path would take them to the citadel, they split up. Jaxon, Hendrick and the rest took a left, leaving the right open to Brent and Alexa. ‘After you,’ said Brent.

Since there was barely any light they had to tread carefully. Alexa extended her arm out, stroking the walls to get a rough idea of where she had to go. It was cold and wet and there was a foul air about. Brent followed Alexa as she took a left, a right and then backtracked, then along for a while before the tunnels zigzagged for what seemed like an age before they stopped and, looking up, they found a ladder directly above, too high to reach. ‘Here,’ said Brent, bringing his hands together and interlocking his fingers. ‘I’ll give you a boost.’ Alexa grabbed onto Brent’s shoulders, and put her foot on his opened hands and pushed herself up, managing to grab onto the ladder single-handedly.

Dangling, Alexa reached down and pulled Brent who used his legs to climb up, holding onto Alexa’s arm as he did. Together they made their way up and loosened a hatch, leading up to the ground.

There were wisps of cloaks and the echo of orders flying about, but so far they were the only ones around.

Over the top of the low houses, Brent and Alexa could see the citadel, it was still a great deal away and night was falling. Once the cover of darkness blanketed the sky, the smoke would be at full strength and they would be in peril.

Brent and Alexa had made it through before they bumped into Hendrick. ‘Hurry,’ he said. ‘We must get to the gates.’

Between the backstreets they went, the whole place was deserted save the odd few who had barricaded themselves indoors. The curfew would be in effect and if they were caught there was no chance of having an audience with the Guardian.

‘Halt!’ The shriek came as a shock. It was a Panthcardian who charged towards them.

To their surprise, however, Jaxon tackled the Panthcardian.

‘Go, now.’ He barked, placing his knee on the back of the Panthcardian who was trying to break free.

Brent, Alexa and Hendrick broke into a run towards the citadel. The Panthcardians had caught their scent. They had apprehended Jaxon before long. Then more joined the pursuit, sceptres pointed at the trio who were now breaching curfew.

They ran, not daring to turn back. As they got closer to the citadel they picked up the pace. Alexa felt the cold against the sweat that beaded down her face, she had never felt so alive. In their haste, Hendrick did not see a low branch and was struck. He fell back, winded.

Alexa turned back and almost lost her balance, she lurched. Hendrick was hurt.

Brent had to leave them behind. He jogged up the steep hill, his sides stinging, ascending breathlessly. Panthcardians were all around, he had the upper hand, the Panthcardians had to carry their sceptres. Brent panted, he got on all fours and climbed the hill that became steeper the higher he went. Brent managed to crawl sidewards and jumped onto stone steps that lead to the entrance of the citadel. He was almost there.

The gates were closed. As Brent approached he shook the bars, but they wouldn’t budge. He clasped his hands around the lock and blasted it with energy that came alive in his hands. The lock disintegrated and he managed to squeeze through. The path led up to two large double doors that were made from a material different to the gates. Brent could not use his powers here.

SNAP.

Brent turned to find two Panthcardians, directing their sceptres at his chest. Moonlight shot down and something on one of the Panthcardians glinted. He squinted to find one of them was wearing a necklace that had a key attached to it. Brent challenged the Panthcardians to claim it. He slowed himself down by inhaling and exhaling slowly, focusing his attention on the Panthcardians. Brent sensed the two walking gingerly towards him, deciding on the best tactical approach. Brent brought his hands together, as if in prayer, before spreading them outwards. A flurry of amber energy burst between the space of his hands, he could feel the energy growing.

The Panthcardians raised their sceptres, turning the hilt, sending bolts zapping through the sceptres until they bounced off the tips, thundering towards Brent.

Before they could do anything, the energy pulsed and brought the Panthcardians to their knees.

Brent reached down to grab the key off the unconscious Panthcardian, he made sure to take the sceptres and throw them down the hill, he then used the key.

Once inside Brent could hear the whooshes of the smoke and the sounds of numerous blasts.

Having journeyed from the Isgilion overnight, the remaining Panthcardians, of whom were not patrolling the streets, shuffled within the Halls of Listern, drenched, battered and worse for wear after trudging non-stop to get here following their clash against the Treglon – a-third had survived.

Dark figures with crimson pupils grabbed onto a helpless Cepheus. One of the manifestations stalked from behind the Commander and wrapped its smoked fingers around his throat and squeezed. The Commander of the Panthcardians keeled on marble floor.

The smoke swarmed as the Panthcardians, sceptres in hand, began to surround it in an attempt to keep the Guardian from harm.

The dark figures turned into a cloud and constructed itself in the form of four pillars, entrapping Ghezar. Arms of smoke billowed outwards and wrapped themselves around him. With a gust of smoke falling down, Ghezar was forced to his knees.

Silus materialised. Smoke blocked his path. He held back when two columns branched together as the smoke thickened. In next to no time, Silus was completely surrounded by a twister as he fought to grab at what air he could. His vision began to blur, his senses distorted as if the smoke was making him weaker.

‘It is a void, an emptiness that echoes from an origin I cannot detect,’ said Silus, more to himself than to Ghezar who was almost within reach but unaccessible, maybe Ghezar could hear him. ‘The Matter-Fabric is unstable. You were right, Time is indeed falling!’ He analysed the smoke, trying to find its origin, whilst its attention was rooted to the Guardian. It took great mental effort to locate the primary source of the smoke and detect how it got here, then working backwards to see if he could decipher where it had originated.

Jendarah, Berenices, Sculptor and Virgo approached. Each one chose a column and aimed. Simultaneously a different colour of energy discharged from the tips of their sceptres and beamed towards the columns.

At once, Silus jumped from the spot he was standing, to the space within the columns to grab the unconscious Guardian. As Silus held Ghezar, his throat dried, air was escaping him.

Idorn had managed to summon them across the Hall. He then rejoined Jendarah, Berenices, Sculptor and Virgo. The energy from the Five’s sceptres began to dome the columns.

The smoke took a physical form. An eerie sound filled the air as the smoke ran amorphously, the end of the columns clashed together and took hold. As the smoke twisted from the ground up, a pair of black boots took shape, the smoke snaked its way up as a pair of legs, a head and remaining limbs formed.

Beings watched in silence, not knowing what to expect.

Where the head was supposed to be, smoke erupted. A face soon crept through, red slits formed as eyes as the smoke began to mould a face, thin cheekbones, the pointiest of ears, shoulder-length hair and a nose poked out. A smoked sword manifested. The dark figure was emotionless in its features. Smouldering smoke was skin that belonged to the Shadow-Illudanex.

The Panthcardians drew their sceptres. The Five took their positions in a circle and watched ever so eagerly at what was about to unfold.

‘Bear arms, aim true,’ Idorn commanded.

The Shadow-Illudanex turned slowly, weighing its options. It brought out its jagged sword and tapped the sceptres, challenging the Five.

Idorn watched the dark figure with great interest, rising on his tiptoes to get a better look. He balled his hand into a fist. The Panthcardians proceeded to stationary positions, with sceptres at their sides.

Idorn, Jendarah, Berenices, Sculptor and Virgo brought themselves to face the Shadow-Illudanex.

The smoked figure scanned the Five, snorting as it sensed their power. It could tell that the Five were in deep telepathic conversation. There was a moment when the Five’s thoughts became inaudible.

If you could believe it, in that pause everyone held their breath. Air did not dare to dance and it was like Time had stopped. Then the Five flourished an arsenal of assaults on the Shadow-Illudanex: Idorn blasted a bolt of energy. Jendarah zapped red lightning. Berenices jumped and spun in mid-air, upon landing he sent jets of green pellets towards the dark figure. Sculptor fanned his hands as if he was putting out a fire, with this motion he was able to stun the Shadow-Illudanex. Whilst Virgo unleashed a tidal wave of turquoise energy, blocking it.

For a while, the Five kept on throwing attacks on the Shadow-Illudanex that remained still.

Virgo had just about covered the dark figure and was about to complete the shielding when the Shadow-Illudanex stomped its foot and dissolved the shielding as if it had no effect on it whatsoever.

‘Well he doesn’t look too cheerful,’ remarked Sculptor.

The Panthcardians intervened and pelted bolts, each hitting the Shadow-Illudanex who ignored them and advanced on Ghezar.

Silus took a stand, he stood in the middle of Ghezar and the Shadow-Illudanex.

‘I will not stand by and watch the Matter-Fabric perish. I will do what is necessary to bear such responsibility,’ Silus promised. He raised Ghezar’s sceptre. ‘Whomsoever conjured you will have to defeat me if they wish to take the seat … starting with you.’

The Panthcardians attempted to ward off the Shadow-Illudanex, the beings in the Halls charged towards it as the smoke produced slivers. Brent and Alexa dealt with one, trying to prevent any more dark figures forming.

The Shadow-Illudanex pushed its way through a handful of Panthcardians. Towered over Brent, it forced him to fall backwards as it grabbed onto his arms. The dark figure flashed a grotesque set of teeth and snarled, bits of its smoked drool separated and dissolved.

Brent tried to summon his energy, but somehow the Shadow-Illudanex was preventing him from utilising his powers. Alexa slid beside Brent and released a pulse that sent the Shadow-Illudanex flying. ‘Not that you needed rescuing,’ she smiled.

‘Of course not, I was handling it perfectly fine.’

The couple scurried in opposite directions to return to the fight.

Jendarah, Berenices, Sculptor and Virgo waved their sceptres in circles to gather the smoke in segments. ‘Here!’ Yelled Idorn, joining their side. Together they blasted bolts that sliced the smoke, killing off the root.

The Panthcardians had managed to overcome most of the smoke with the help of the Five. It had seemed that they had defeated the smoke.

Alexa helped Silus to his feet, she looked across the Hall to Brent and grinned, but Brent was gazing somewhere below her. Alexa looked at what was attracting his attention, when she discovered a swirl of smoke running up her leg and then around her back. She had no time to react. The smoke formed into a dark figure that held a dagger and had used it to stab her heart, she spluttered, choking for breath.

A great energy spouted from Brent’s hand, spilling into the Hall, cutting the smoke which wavered.

Brent hastened, making it just in time to catch Alexa, grabbing her by the waist.

‘Hold on,’ pleaded Brent, trying to comfort her.

‘It’s okay,’ she said. ‘I’ve had a good run, there’s nothing anyone can do.’

‘No. I can’t have that.’

‘You have no choice.’

‘I can’t let you go,’ he wept.

‘I know.’ Alexa said, and her eyes closed weakly.

Brent clutched her tight in his arms, tears streamed down his face.

The Five had done what they could to obliterate the last traces of smoke.

It was done, they had triumphed.

Silus checked Ghezar for a pulse, he shook his head.

The Guardian was dead.

Silus stood alongside Idorn who had a sceptre in hand, before the masses of beings.

‘Gentlefolk,’ said Silus. ’Our nation has been divided in two, from those who preserve Time and those who wish to control it. Your Guardian died trying to uphold the oaths he swore to keep. Cepheus, the Commander of the Panthcardians too has been taken from us, a great loss also. For now I am to assume the seat until a Master is found, I … the successor of Ghezar.

‘Since Ghezar’s inception, he pursued lawbreakers; those who meddled with the Matter-Fabric. I vow that from this day on, I shall keep the line secure. Before you are several members, by the powers that I hold, I honour these beings who have devoted their lives to fight for our cause. They shall become an order that will enforce Continumental Laws as we govern the Prime Worlds.’

‘Together,’ Silus resumed, ‘shall we walk amongst a Master once again, in the hope that he shall arrive in our lifetime. Before this … we must revel in the good days to come. For once a Master is gifted to us, Darkness will ensue. Our duty is to protect the existence through law and order. We shall be strong … we shall be just … we will be a salvation to all who seek it and to ensure the Matter-Fabric lasts eternally.’

Applause broke throughout the Halls of Listern.

Silus knew that the existence would have to be ready to face their greatest fears and defend their rights and beliefs. Though, as he pondered on what-ifs and the thought of Time collapsing, his heart sank. Silus would inevitably have to lead the existence to doom someday, through perhaps the greatest of events yet to come.

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