Thank you all for waiting patiently for this new addition to the story, I pulled myself together to the best of my ability to get it out for you. The editing might not be up to par as Captius reread it after a all nighter session of gaming, but I think he did a pretty good job.
I want to personally thank you all once more for your support in my time of need and your messages of condolence really helped me get through this a little easier. Cap has been by far the biggest support structure in my life and I honestly don't know what I would have done if he hadn't been there for me whenever I needed him. Having someone to call in the middle of the night was amazing.
I'd just like to take a moment to clarify something that a few of you have been asking: publication. I have given this story to Cap completely as it is mostly his now anyways. I originally came up with the setting and a little bit of the story but what he has done has really made it real, something I probably couldn't do even half as well. I have urged him to write a clean and more concise version but he does have a lot on his plate right now with his job and a few other projects he has been working on. He is a real work horse and the stories he has posted to this site are not even one percent of what he is actually working on at any given time. I will keep you updated though. Now enough with this long winded return speech from me! I hope you enjoy this chapter as I enjoyed going over it with Cap while he was writing it.
Memories Buried Deep and the Lady of Dragons
Richard sat in the center of a small courtyard near the front entrance to the floating castle known as Castle Islan. The air was warm and smelled of flowers in the early morning sunshine and Richard felt relaxed just being outside. He wasn't alone however. The Daughter of Earth, Zya sat to his left while the Daughter of Earth, Louise sat to his right. Master Rio, the Master of Water Magic stood before them and kept a silent watch over her students as her milky white eyes moved back and forth from each one of them.
It was the first day of Richard's new training regimen and this was his first lesson. He hadn't even eaten breakfast yet and could already feel his stomach starting to gnaw on itself as it wasn't used to this. For so long he had been pampered at the school with three meals a day and snacks any time he wanted them, but it seemed that was a thing of the past now. The first thing every morning he was now required to come down to the courtyard and participate in a meditation session before he was allowed to do anything else, and it sounded like this would go on for an undetermined period of time.
'Close your eyes and empty your mind, Richard,' the elderly woman said in her surprisingly young sounding voice. She must have noticed that he was just staring blankly into space as he couldn't quite grasp what it was he was supposed to be doing. 'This training is much more important for you than it is for anyone else.'
'I can't get comfortable,' he complained and shifted his pose. He had been instructed on how to properly meditate, but the pose was the most uncomfortable and unsightly thing he had ever seen before. He was supposed to sit flat on his ass and arc both legs out in front of him, pressing the soles together and creating a circle between his groin and feet. He was then expected to arc his arms towards his sides and create a circle on each side while maintaining his balance at all times. It just wasn't cutting it though.
'This technique has been handed down from generation to generation. You will get used to it eventually,' the Master explained but Richard couldn't bring himself to believe her words.
'All I have to do is clear my mind?' he asked and the old white haired woman nodded. By this time both Louise and Zya had stopped their own meditation and were now watching him keenly. Richard could feel Louise's eyes on him and had to suppress the urge to look over at the very young girl and make a goofy face. 'Let me try a more comfortable pose then.'
He crossed his legs in front of him and relaxed his body, allowing his arms to fall onto his knees with his palms up. He had seen this pose in a martial arts movie once, but he wasn't even really sure if it was real or just something Hollywood made up to look good. Even if it was fake it was still a hundred times more comfortable than the previous position and he found it a lot easier to focus on his breathing like he had been told to. He closed his eyes and tried to let the world slip away from him as he focused solely on his breathing, keeping it even and measuring the ins and outs of it.
'How do you feel?' Master Rio asked with a curious tone to her words. She probably hadn't seen it being done like this before.
'Calm,' he whispered, not wanting to raise his voice. 'But what am I supposed to do now?'
'You're hopeless,' Zya growled but Richard did his best to ignore her. Any little thing she said to him really grated against his nerves and it took everything he had to keep his anger in check. It was probably because of how he had seen her talking to Daiya the previous day. Those two really didn't get along.
'Zya, back to your own meditation,' Master Rio warned the pupil sternly, making sure to cut this off before it had a chance to get out of hand. 'As for you Richard, focus on finding a place where only you exist. Let your mind and heart envelop you as you breathe in and out. This training is to help you learn to control your emotions with greater accuracy, so you must always find a place of peace.'
'Like being in a Zen state?' he asked and then realized that this older woman probably had no idea what he was talking about.
'If a Zen state is a place of inner peace, then yes. The reason Masters of Earth have used this meditation technique is to allow us to become like the earth we mold. The earth is peaceful, always standing still and never crumbling under pressure the deeper down you go. You must emulate this and become like the earth. It takes years of practice and a lot of patience, but eventually you can attain a true inner peace where you are impervious to everything around you, like Louise is right now.'
At the woman's words, Richard opened his eyes and looked to his side to find the little girl sitting in the strange pose. He hadn't even noticed that she had gone back to her meditation, but just looking at her he could tell she was in a whole different place than he was. Her cute face was serene and her breathing was so soft that for a moment he wasn't even sure she was breathing. Master Rio walked up to her student and placed a wrinkled hand on her tiny shoulder, shaking her roughly for a few moments. Louise didn't so much as blink at the sudden disturbance and Richard could tell that she had no idea what had actually happened to her.
'Louise is able to maintain this state for days if she wanted or needed to. Even at such a young age she is a prodigy, but it still took her two years to get to this point. Now keep going. If you can maintain your meditation for half an hour straight I will allow you go have breakfast.'
Richard's stomach growled at the mention of food and he quickly turned his head forward and closed his eyes. He still wasn't sure on how he was supposed to attain this inner peace, but he figured sitting still and controlling his breathing was a good place to start. Trying to clear his mind was the hardest part and he realized just how many thoughts went through his brain even when he wasn't trying to think about anything. He had once read a book where a group of people were trying to attain some kind of power and they used a form of meditation to do it. One of the people had focused on their breathing and imagined that it was the ebb and flow of an ocean beating down gently on a sandy beach. He tried to do the same thing and was actually surprised when he found that it was easier to do it that way. His mind cleared a bit more and he was able to shut off the sounds of the wind sweeping through the trees nearby.
It had only felt like two minutes had passed when he suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder and he opened his eyes in surprise to find Daiya kneeling before him with a small plate of food and something to drink. She smiled sweetly at him and placed the food on his lap as he took in his surroundings, finding that Master Rio was now sitting on the ground herself and meditating.
'I'm not supposed to eat for another half an hour,' Richard said, mostly against his will. His stomach was burning and the smell of the warm food in front of him was making his mouth water uncontrollably.
'It's been an hour,' Louis said and Richard looked over to find her munching down on her own plate of food.
'Master Rio wanted you to keep going, but your stomach was making too much noise for the others to concentrate,' Daiya giggled softly and shifted her eyes slightly as she smirked at Zya on Richard's other side. It was obvious that she meant Zya was the one having trouble concentrating.
'Laugh it up! At least I have access to the other Masters,' the mean girl growled and turned her back on the rest of them as she dug into her breakfast.
'Ignore her,' Louise sighed and she sounded older than her actual age for a moment.
Richard grabbed his plate of food and took a big bite out of a buttered piece of bread while Daiya settled on her pert butt in front of him. She picked up his goblet of water and took a drink from it before offering it to him, which he took gratefully. The food here wasn't as good as it was back at the palace or the academy, so the bread was pretty dry and a little stale.
'So what are you doing while I am training?' he asked her curiously.
'Technically I'm still a member of the Dragoons, so I go through reports that my father sends and help Aura with her military work as well. Other than that I just watch you.'
'Sounds boring...' Richard replied dryly and his wife laughed softly while nodding her head. 'Your father must be pretty mad that you just left the battle like that, eh?'
'Actually, not really. He never wanted me to be in the war in the first place, remember? So he's actually pretty happy that I've decided to stay here and make sure you are okay. Aura wasn't so lucky though.'
'What do you mean?' he asked between mouthfuls of a hot porridge like substance. It was pretty bland and felt like a pile of boogers sliding down his throat, but his stomach was glad to be filled with something so it didn't care what it felt or tasted like.
'She's the leader of the Second Mage Battalion, the largest force in the kingdom, so the other generals and even Reiea isn't too pleased about her sudden disappearance. Day after day ravens and owls bring requests for her to return to the front, most of which she ignores,' Daiya explained and the tone of her voice made it sound like she was genuinely worried about Aura. Then again, Aura was technically her mother-in-law and they were pretty close to begin with.
'Yeah, that makes sense. Reiea isn't the most understanding person. I wouldn't be surprised if she punishes Aura for this in some way.'
'I don't think it will be that bad,' Daiya said softly and she picked at the discarded hunk of bread that Richard wanted nothing to do with. 'Aura's already been gone for two weeks, but there hasn't been a single bad word shared between her and the Queen. I think Reiea understands why she is needed here more. How long that lasts is anyone's guess though.'
Actually, the more surprising thing was that Reiea hadn't suddenly shown up at Islan on her own to check up on Richard herself. Now that he thought about it that was most likely the thing she would do, what with the way she tried to dig her claws into him all the time. But after that little fight they had at the palace, a memory that had returned to him in his sleep, it was also understandable that she didn't want to be around him right now. He had kind of blown up a piece of her palace and yelled at her like she was some spoiled brat; actually she had been acting exactly like a spoiled brat.
Richard continued to eat in silence and once he had finished he pushed his plate behind him and drained the rest of his water from the goblet. Master Rio was still in her own deep trance and he really had no idea what he was supposed to be doing next, so he was going to take advantage of this time and spend it with his wife for as long as he could. They made small talk and held hands as they sat in the sunlight, but it became pretty obvious that they had a little audience when they both noticed little Louise watching them intently and slowly sliding closer to where they both sat.
'Is something the matter?' Daiya asked the small brown haired girl and she shook her head quickly.
'No, I was just watching you two. You both seem really happy. Why?' she asked in an innocent manner and Richard couldn't help but smile. This girl was so small and cute that he just wanted to tease her and hug her, something that was probably not okay considering she was the Daughter of Earth.
'What do you mean?' he asked. 'Why wouldn't we be happy? We love each other.'
'I want to be loved too!' she pouted as only a child could and suddenly Daiya began to giggle in a scheming manner. 'What's so funny?'
'Why doesn't Richard be your big brother?' the Dark Elf suggested and the girls eyes lit up slightly at her words. 'Then you can be loved too. I'm sure he wouldn't mind, right sweetie?'
'Umm... wait, what?' Richard asked in confusion and looked at his wife curiously. The very next moment the small girl had suddenly leapt into his lap, her back against his chest as she pulled his arms around her small torso and nuzzled into him with a happy giggle.
'I've always wanted an brother!' she squealed and Daiya couldn't control her laughter anymore. 'Thank you both!'
Richard let himself be forced to hug this little girl and noticed that it actually felt kind of good. It was actually a little nice to be this way with someone. Most of the women in his life were either interested in him or his seed, were considered family and kind of cold towards him, or were like May and were very aggressive towards him. So being able to hold someone so cute and cuddly with no other implications was refreshing.
'Yeah, no worries,' he found himself saying and he caught Daiya's smiling face winking at him. She leaned him and hugged both of them before kissing Richard gently on the lips.
'We kind of look like a family, don't we?' Louise sighed happily. Zya, who still had had her back to them, snorted loudly but everyone ignored her.
'Family, huh?' Daiya whispered under her breath with an odd look in her eyes. Before Richard could ask her what she was thinking she released the hug and stood up. 'I should probably go check on Lillin and Aura. I'll come see you at lunch. I love you.'
'Okay... love you too,' Richard said back and watched his wife walk away as Louise continued to giggle in his arms.
Louise continued to talk to Richard about him now being her older brother until Master Rio finally came back to the real world and they continued their training. Louise and Zya had personal training after breakfast so it had been decided that during this time Richard would train with the Master of Water in combat techniques. At first Richard thought it would be a mix of sword and spell training, so he was mildly surprised when he met up with her in the castle and learned that he would be training in a form of martial arts instead.
Master Regina, the middle aged Master of Water and Ice, brought him into a large stone room where all of the furniture had been removed and semi-soft mats had been placed on the ground. It kind of reminded Richard of the gym floor in the school tower back at the academy, only with two people in there instead of a whole class of students.
'How much do you know about martial combat?' the tall woman asked and she pulled her cloak off her shoulders and threw it down on the floor next to her.
'I know how to punch, I guess,' he answered. He wasn't quite sure why learning how to fight with his hands was going to help him control his magic better, but he didn't really have much choice.
'So we'll be starting from the beginning, it seems,' Master Regina sighed deeply and took a step towards Richard. She stepped into a combat pose, distributing her weight evenly on both feet and holding her hands out in front of her like she was about to strike out at him. 'Come at me with everything you have.'
'Umm, are you sure? I don't want to hurt you...'
'You should be more worried about hurting yourself. Now come!'
Richard was reminded of his sword instructor back when he stayed at the Dark Elf Palace before his wedding. This woman was supposedly a very powerful magic user thus it was a little odd that she was his teacher in hand to hand combat, not to mention her arrogance towards him about it. So Richard really had no qualms swinging away at her like she was asking him too. He was pretty confident that his skills had become sharper than when he had first come to this world; he had single handedly beaten May into a near death state by mostly using his fists. So this should be no problem
Boy was he wrong.
Richard took a step forward on his weaker leg and swung his right fist towards the woman's face, thinking he was going to connect and show her up. Only it didn't work out like that. Master Regina easily deflected his attack with the back of her left arm and knocked him off balance by allowing all his strength and weight to keep going unimpeded. Before Richard could even begin to steady himself he was struck hard in the stomach with Regina's right fist and then was immediately knocked on his ass when she lashed out with her left fist and caught him on the side of the head.
The older woman's blows weren't particularly strong but they were still very effective. His old swords master had once told him that becoming a great sword fighter had nothing to do with strength or power, but had everything to do with skill, smarts, quickness, and the ability to turn your opponents attacks against themselves. That is pretty much what Master Regina had just done to him. She used her superior skill and speed to easily deflect his powerful attack without letting any of his forward momentum bleed off. By doing so she opened up a huge gap in his defense and exploited it before Richard even saw it coming.
'Do you know what you did wrong?' she asked him as Richard got back to his feet slowly, wiping a small dribble of blood from his lips.
'Yes,' he answered quickly, but judging by the look on his teachers face it seemed she didn't believe him. 'I left myself open by going in for a power attack that probably would have ended the fight. An old master once told me that the best sword fighters are like water, always flowing and absorbing their opponents attacks. I didn't do that.'
Master Regina smiled slightly at his analogy and then stepped towards him, her hands down at her sides so he wouldn't think she was going to attack him once more. She grabbed his right hand and held it up until the palm was facing her and his arm was fully extended.
'Princess Daiya told me of your training with the sword, and I'm glad you remembered some of what you learned. Not many mages believe in learning to protect themselves with martial skills, but it is just as important for a battle mage as their spell training. Now, what else did your teacher tell you about using a sword?'
'Um, something about the sword being an extension of my body,' he answered but then his voice went a little quiet as he admitted something a little embarrassing, 'I couldn't quite grasp that though. In a fight I would always end up relying on my magic, even in close combat.'
'Well that's understandable. How can you expect someone to remember to use their bladed weapon when they don't understand it completely. What you master told you is true, the blade is an extension of your arm, but how can you wield it when you need it the most if you can't even control your actual arm properly? That is what you will be learning from me. You will find that your body is just as much a deadly weapon as a sword or your magic.'
'Okay, I get that... but what does this have to do with me learning to control the dark side of my magic?'
'What you ask?' Master Regina smirked and took five steps back from him and fell into a combat stance as she ushered him to come at her again, 'It has everything to do with it!'
Richard spent the better of part of two hours getting his ass kicked by a woman a few inches shorter than him and probably fifty to sixty pounds lighter than he was. For the first little while she just kept telling him to attack her, never really handing out any advice or tips on what he was doing. It seemed she wanted to see how much skill he had and once she realized he had little to no skill she started him off on the basics. By the end of the session he was tired, sweaty, dirty, bruised and a little bloody. He did learn a few things towards the end though, like how to hold his weight when swinging and blocking and also how to position his feet so he wasn't easily knocked down. Against a more advance opponent it was useless though. Richard was thoroughly discouraged when Master Regina told him they would continue the next day.
Because of the training, Richard had missed lunch and learned that everyone had eaten already. It wouldn't have bothered him too much if he had just been allowed to eat something quick by himself, but it seemed his day was jam packed with activities and now he had to train with Aura. Even though the school was closed down and she was no longer the Daughter of Arcane, everyone agreed that there was no better person to teach him the finer points of Arcane Magic, a style he had almost no skill in. He had been bottom of the class back at school and always used his Light Magic instead of something he had trouble handling.
He didn't have a choice in the matter though. Once he learned that Daiya would also be attending the class he realized it wouldn't be so bad, he would get to spend some time with his wife. That elation was quickly quelled once he found out that Lillin was going to be present as well, and that she and Daiya were just there to keep an eye on his mental state. Through the entire lesson where he tried to grasp the concept of making an eye out of Arcane Magic, all Daiya and Lillin did was stare at him and ask him if he was feeling alright. The reason for this, something he learned after the lesson, was that as the day wore on and he became both mentally and physically exhausted they feared that his dark magic would start to come forward. Nothing really note worthy happened though and Lillin seemed a little put out by that for some reason.
The last lesson of the day was a one on one training session with Lillin, much like the way they used to train together back at the academy before it was attacked and shut down for the time being. His master had him casting spells constantly, to both get a better grip on what he could and couldn't do and also to drain his stamina further. Richard mostly used this time to try out a few of the spells he had witnessed in his strange life like dream he had had before waking up from his coma. The one that really intrigued him was the disc of light that allowed the user to float or fly around on it. He had neither the skill nor experience however and ended up falling straight through the disc of white energy from a height of fifteen feet.
Lillin explained to him that only one known source of magic could let their wielder fly and that was wind and lightning. By harnessing the power of wind and changing the temperature surrounding their body, a mage could actually take off and land easily. Lillin had used this spell to quickly chase after Richard when he had ran off to the battle in search of Daiya and the rest of his family. Watching her demonstrate the spell was pretty interesting but it made Richard want to figure out how to get his own working even more. Lillin wasn't sold that it would ever work though and told him to just leave it alone, just in case he injured himself in some 'stupid' way.
The sun had long since set when Lillin allowed him to stop training and take a much needed rest. The air was cool but thankfully there was no wind to cool his sweating body to a dangerous level. Richard took a seat on a stone bench in the courtyard he had been practicing in and grabbed a goblet of cool water that had been brought out for him by Louise before she had gone off to bed. She might be the Daughter of Earth but she was still a child, and as soon as the sun set she grew extremely tired. It was kind of cute actually.
'So...' Richard started but let the words hang in his throat.
'Spit it out,' Lillin sighed as she stood before him with her hands on her hips and her long red hair cascading over her shoulders. The light of the moon washing over her lithe body really highlighted her allure but Richard would always see her as a task master with a whip standing over him.
'I was just wondering how long you think I will have to be here for. I'm sure you've been getting reports on my training all day from the other masters... so what's it looking like so far?'
'It's only the first day, Richard,' she answered sadly and took a seat next to him on the bench. From the tone of her voice he knew he wasn't going to like what she was about to say next. 'You need to start focusing on what really matters to you most right now, and get leaving out of your mind for the time being. People train almost their entire lives to become even a decent mage, a luxury you were not afforded because of your circumstances. To make things even more complicated you use a magic no one else can ever hope to understand or replicate. You are a walking contradiction on top of all of that as well.'
'What do you mean by that?' Richard demanded a little hotly. It almost sounded like she was insulting him in a way he wasn't familiar with.
'You're not exactly a normal person, are you? When you lost your control over your magic and went wild, Aura felt it necessary to explain to me just where it is exactly you come from. I can't even fathom a world where magic only exists in tales, so it's no wonder that you are struggling so much to control even the most mundane spells. Add the fact that you're also the reincarnation of one of the most powerful mages to have ever lived and things get even more muddled. Not much is really known of the time period you first lived in, and even less about you or your magic. We don't know what you are capable of and what the risks are, and I fear we never will. So for now all we can do is keep an eye on you and give you whatever training we can. Everything you do here is of great importance to getting you ready to go back out into the world once more. You can understand that at least, right?'
'Yeah, I guess,' Richard whispered, but he really didn't understand at all. He had been fine up until a few weeks ago, and besides a few minor incidents here at this castle he thought he was doing pretty good.
'If you get nothing else out of my lessons Richard, let this be the one thing that sticks with you: if you leave here before you are ready and have another episode where you lose control in anger, there is the potential of you killing innocents, friends, or even your own family. Is that something you can just brush off? You've already taken the lives of an entire army of men and women.'
The question buried in Lillin's word wasn't really a question at all. By the way she chose her words and the tone she used it was obvious that she was trying to hammer it into Richard's head that he was a danger to everyone and everything around him. His flash backs and nightmares of the battle were a testament to that fact and it was something he was already coming to learn. When he had lost his cool on Zya the other day he had come dangerously close to killing her and probably everyone else in that room as well. He knew he should feel scared about that, and he did. A little bit anyways. There was another emotion lingering in his heart and mind that just wouldn't let go though: arrogance. For most of his life he had always been looked upon as a weaker person, but now he had all the power and that made him happy in a sense.
After a few minutes of silence in which Richard tried to gather his thoughts, Lillin stood up from her spot on the bench and began to walk away. She stopped a few feet from him and then cocked her head back, her eyes locking onto his as she spoke in a softer tone than she had been using for most of the day.
'Go and get some rest, you've earned it. I don't have an answer to your original question just yet, but I can say that you have done well. Just keep this up and stay focused on your training and you will be out of here sooner than any of us think. You've always been good at surprising people I hear.'
Richard was once more assaulted by gruesome and horrifying images as he slept and once he finally woke up he was relieved to see that everything was alright. At first. The room was dark with a small flicker of fire light coming from the stone fireplace in the left wall. Most of the warmth from the fire had been leeched away by the cold night and the distance it was from the bed, but the feel of warm skin against his was more than enough to keep Richard happy and sufficiently warm. He probably could have drifted back to sleep pretty easily, bad dreams or not, with just the presence of Daiya right next to him. There was something off though, and Richard was feeling a little panicky with no real reason for it.
He couldn't see through the gloom very well but he could tell that something was different, and not in a good way. It was almost like he could feel another presence in the room with them, but he couldn't see it. For the briefest of moments he wondered if Reiea had somehow gotten into the castle and had snuck into the room on another one of her plots to try and get him to be with her, but then he realized just how ridiculous that was and he pushed it out of his mind. He couldn't push the feeling of being watched out of his mind though and it was really starting to eat away at him.
When Richard tried to sit up in the bed in an attempt to look around better he realized just how bad things were; not a single muscle in his body listened to him and all he could do was twitch in a pathetic manner. He tried to open his mouth to call out to Daiya and wake her up but found that he couldn't do that either. He was completely helpless as he lie there and no matter how much he struggled he found himself stuck. He couldn't even gather his magic.
'Are you awake now?' he heard a voice whisper through the darkness. It was coming from his side of the bed and he knew from the height it was at that the person speaking was standing less than a few feet away. The voice itself didn't seem very familiar at first but there was something about it that had alarm bells ringing in his brain. It was monotone and almost dead sounding, a very odd combination that sent a chill down his spine.
A few moments later fire light flickered to life next to him and the tall and thin form of a woman came into view. She had her hand held out and an orb of fire was crackling in her upturned palm, illuminating everything in the room like a flashlight would. In a moment of horror Richard realized why the voice had rattled him so much, it belonged to May. As to why it sounded so dead was still a mystery though. Regardless of that she was standing next to his bed looking down at him with small black eyes that sparkled in the light from her palm. No, that couldn't be right. Her eyes weren't black, they were supposed to be green.
'Do not fight the spell and your wife will not be harmed...' the strange May recited like she was reading from a script and with a flick of her other hand Richard's head turned towards Daiya. The strong Dark Elf lay flat on her back in the bed with the covers pulled off her mostly naked form. Instantly Richard realized that the threat was real when he saw a dagger hovering over his wife's chest. Her eyes were wide open in fear and anger and it didn't take long for him to realize that she was probably suffering from the same spell he was at the moment. That would explain why she wasn't speaking or trying to cast a spell.
'What the hell do you want?' Richard breathed and realized that May had allowed him to speak. He had meant to yell that at her but his voice wouldn't speak any louder than a whisper. Probably so he wouldn't attract any attention from the powerful Elemental Masters sleeping in the castle. 'I've already told you, I'm not going back to Earth with you.'
'You misunderstand, I am not here for that reason. I came on behalf of my master, who wishes to speak with you.'
There was something seriously wrong with May, even more than usual and Richard knew that something horrible was going to happen. As soon as that thought rushed through his mind May held out her free hand once more and turned his head back towards her, just in time for him to see her orb of fire exploded softly into the air. The shower of sparks and flames shimmered for a few seconds as something strange occurred; they began to take the form of a man. It was a spell he had never seen or even dreamt of before but he could tell it was a very high level piece of magic. What had once been a small little ball of condensed fire had turned into a full body person made from those same flames. Hair, a long beard, fiery eyes, glowing lips, and even clothes had been formed perfectly as an ancient man wreathed in red and orange flames stood before him.
'My, isn't this a pitiful state I find my star pupil in,' an ancient voice wheezed and it resonated within Richard. He had never seen this man before but there was something so very familiar about him. It almost felt like nostalgia. Like he had met this man somewhere before and just didn't remember it. 'I honestly expected more from you, Roku!'
'Who... who are you?' Richard demanded in his whispery voice and the old man made from fire smiled at him, his red coal like lips cracking wide in a terrifying manner. The more he stared upon this strange face the more he tried to remember where he had seen him before. 'What do you want?'
'It seems that what my little pet told me about you is true; you really don't remember a thing from your past life. No matter, this is all for the better anyways. You were once my most prized possession, the only man who could ever stand up to my power. But now you are nothing.'
Even though the man's eyes were nothing more than two smoldering embers created by May's spell, Richard could still feel an evil and calculating chill emanating from the look he was facing in that moment. The feeling of nostalgia swarmed his brain and even in the most dire circumstances Richard couldn't help but begin to pass out as some hidden memory in the back of his mind flooded forward and engulfed him entirely.
He was no longer lying helpless in his bed, but rather standing in some dark room as a green light permeated the area, coming from the very walls it seemed. Everything was made from large stone blocks, as every other large building seemed to be in this world, but there was also a dark presence hiding somewhere nearby. There was a sense of panic and urgency coursing through his blood and his legs ran all out as his body moved on its own. Down a long dimly lit green corridor and around a sharp corner he finally came to the one room he knew he didn't want to be near, but one he had no choice but to enter. With a trembling hand he reached out and pushed the large wooden reinforced door open on noiseless hinges.
The sights, sounds, and smells that assaulted his senses were so over powering that at first Richard didn't know what he was looking at. Red, green, white, purple, yellow, orange, and blue lights flashed in chaotic patterns like a demented rave setup and the sounds of wind and chanting shredded Richard's tender eardrums like someone was stabbing him in the ears with a knife. Through all of that pollution there was one horrifying image Richard could see before him, one that made absolutely no sense to him but one that spelled the end of everything. A man in long black robes stood in the middle of a large cavernous room with his hands raised to the air and his lips moving over elegant and ancient sounding words that Richard didn't recognize as any kind of spell incantation. He had a long white beard tucked into his belt and beady black eyes that were alight with glee as his strange spell built stronger and stronger around him.
'Stop this, Master Rydon!' he heard himself call out loudly over the noise in the room. 'You don't know what you're doing!'
A few seconds after Richard yelled out his warning the elderly man ceased his chanting and he cocked his head slightly towards him with a small and devious smile parting his cracked and chapped lips. 'It is already done, my young apprentice! And I know exactly what I do!'
'Why then? If you know what is going to happen then why are you doing this Master? Do you realize how many people who will be killed because of your actions?'
'I do not care for the lives of mundane beings who skitter about like nothing really matters! They will all die, and you along with them!'
Richard forced his feet to move him a little closer to this mad man who was doing something unspeakable. Even though Richard didn't exactly know what was going on, he realized he was witnessing a turning point in history; he was seeing a moment he had already witnessed once before. If this was what he thought it was, and he was pretty sure it was, then this was the beginning of the Great War that nearly ended all civilized life on the continent.
'This isn't you Master! Stop this madness now before it's too late. I know you don't really wish to hurt anyone!'
Richard held out his hand in a flash and released a ball of pent up energy at his master as he spoke in an attempt to get him to come to reason. The amount of energy and speed held within the fist sized orb was ten times more powerful than anything Richard had ever managed to cast when he was awake, so he was amazed when the old man simply flicked a finger and made the ball dissolve into nothing with little effort. In the very next instant the man spoke two words and a powerful purple field of energy erupted between them and cut the room in half. Even Richard was able to see that none of his spells could penetrate this powerful spell and he lowered his hand in defeat.
'Why are you so caught up in trying to stop this, Roku?' the old man asked aloud and Richard didn't answer. He didn't know what to say. 'I know you've already gotten Prince Wales and your precious little Monica out of the city, so it's not like they will be killed... right away at least. So why this false bravado? Why do you still struggle when you know it is futile?'
'The powers you are toying with a extremely powerful, they could destroy more than just this city if you keep going! Is being Immortal really that important to you? You're the most powerful mage to have ever lived, so why must you resort to such dangerous, ancient, and unknown magic?'
'I don't want to hear that from you! You who was born from miracle and prophecy who can control forces no one else can even fathom! You are the reason I must delve into the darker areas just so I can preserve my seat as the greatest!'
'What are you talking about? You're not making any sense, Master!' Richard yelled and his frustration was starting to boil over. He couldn't tell if it was because he was getting nowhere with this mad man or if it was the dark magic seeping into his mind and body, overruling his senses. Not that it mattered either way.
'How naive you are, for you to think you were nothing more than an orphaned brat who once lived on the streets! Didn't you ever question why you could create a unique and powerful form of magic that no one could ever stand against? I did! It drove me nearly insane trying to figure out who you really were! So I delved deeper into your past and what I found is what led me to this day!'
'What... what the hell do you mean?!' he demanded and unconsciously took a step towards the arcane wall erected between the protégé and his master. The room around him was beginning to swell and distort as the intensity of the spell that had been cast was coming to a peak. 'I'm just a normal man!'
'Oh, if only that were true! Not that it matters now, you're going to die knowing absolutely nothing. And I will finally be free of your shadow! The time has come, Roku of the Light!' Master Rydon cackled and raised both hands into the air once more. One hand began to glow purple while the other took on a glowing green light that Richard hadn't seen before. 'Ria auz dylo clo dovonakuum! GRANT ME THE IMMORTALITY I DESERVE!'
A thunderous crash echoed through the cut off room and a bright green light erupted from the old man's body and exploded through the ceiling above him. Everything happened so quick that Richard was barely able to keep up with it and all he could do was let his body go through the motions of an event that had happened more than two thousand years ago. In a flash of white light he was completely engulfed in a large and powerful shield of light energy that was amazingly powerful. It obscured everything around him and only the brutal sound of the earth tearing apart made it past and attacked his senses as he held on as strongly as he could and prayed he would come out on the other end in one piece.
When the sound and rumbling of the earth had finally subsided, Richard slowly let his shield go and took stock of everything around him. There was nothing left. He stood alone in the center of a massive chasm that had been torn through the ground and the night sky above him looked cold and barren, as if the stars had been put out. The once beautiful capital city had been erased from the face of the world for the most part, and only a few buildings on the outskirts of the canyon stood; but even those had been destroyed beyond repair. He was the only living person for miles.
'Take the sample I require, Monica,' an ancient voice cut through his dream/memory and Richard blinked as the blinding light from May's spell attacked his eyes. He was once more lying on his bed next to a paralyzed Daiya with May standing above him and a man made of fire watching on. May held in her hand a long and dangerous looking object that closely resembled a medical syringe back from his world, only this one was at least eight times bigger.
'What's going on?' he asked in a whisper and a bead of sweat dripped into his eye and caused him to blink in minor discomfort as May advanced on him with her deadly looking tool. 'What is that thing?'
'Don't worry yourself with that, Roku,' the man spoke and his voice had a hint of laughter around the edges. 'Just lie there and watch in horror as I make the woman who loved you so fiercely end your life. And know that once you close your eyes for the very last time, I will once more rise and take my rightful place as the enslaver of all mankind! You could not stop me before, and you will not this time!'
Richard's heartbeat was going a mile a minute now and May knelt down beside him, putting the very large and very sharp tip of the needle to his chest right above it. It would only take a second and then it would all be over. Once she plunged that object into his body and stole his blood, his heart would be pierced and he would die a very quick death. There was nothing he could do about it and with Daiya out of commission he was doomed to his fate.
'I guess I should have gone home when you told me too,' Richard found himself saying with a sad laugh. He wasn't sure why exactly he said that, but it was pretty funny to him in that moment. He had been given many chances to escape this destiny before and he had tossed each and every one of them aside. With Daiya in his life that choice had been easy though, and even in his final moments he knew he wouldn't do it any other way if given the chance.
'Do it! Kill him and bring me his blood!' the old man, Master Rydon hissed at May and a purple and green flicker ran over her dead looking eyes. But she didn't do it. 'I said KILL HIM!'
'N... n... no...' May forced the single word out and her hand trembled around the massive syringe poised to strike Richards heart at a moment's notice. The dead look in her eyes was slowly being pushed away from the center and her normal and vibrant green color began to gain ground as the woman's willpower began to take control of her body once more.
'May...' Richard breathed and he could feel the spell binding him begin to weaken as she gained more and more control of her actions.
'You will listen to my commands, dog! Do as I say and kill him!' Master Rydon raged but it was already too late; he had lost his control on his slave and the spell holding Richard and Daiya and lifted enough for them to take action.
In a flurry of motion, both Richard and his wife leapt up from their bed and rushed at their enemies. While Daiya focused on May who was still struggling to maintain control over her body, Richard set his sights on the man pulling her strings. With his new bracer on his right hand he lashed out with a strong attack as he filled his fist with light and swung at the man's head. It was useless though, this wasn't the man's actual body, just an image created through a spell. All Richard succeeded in doing was swinging his hand harmlessly through the fire and smoke and dispersing it until the spell fizzled completely and the image evaporated into nothing.
'Damn it!' Richard yelled at the top of his lungs in frustration and then turned towards May who was being held on the ground with her hands behind her back with a nasty bruise on the side of her face. Daiya looked up at him with a small smile on her lips but a haunted look in her eyes. Richard knew she was wondering just what the hell that had been about, something he wanted answered himself.
'Why did he want my blood?' Richard asked May aggressively. She didn't answer and it wasn't because she didn't want to; her eyes began to droop and it looked like she was about to pass out at any moment. Sure enough she closed her eyes completely a few seconds later and her body went limp as Daiya continued to hold her in place.
'Richard, hold her for me please,' Daiya asked and he took her place. He knelt over her body and used one of his knees to make sure her legs couldn't move while he held both hands high up on her back. She would surely be in some pain once she woke up, but right now this was probably the only way to make sure she wouldn't try and fight back.
Daiya stood next to him and held her hand out, her gleaming ring shinning with a purple tint as she recited words to a spell Richard hadn't heard before. After a few moments a small orb of purple light erupted from the center of her ring and hovered in front of her as it began to morph, growing a body and wings until it looked like a butterfly made from pure magical power.
'Warn the others,' she spoke to the magical butterfly and it fluttered of in the next instant. It passed through the stone wall like it as nothing and disappeared from sight as Richard watched it and wondered just how it would warn everyone that something had happened.
It only took thirty seconds until Aura and Lillin were breaking down their door, their focuses glowing with power and a nasty look on their sleepy faces. When they realized the situation was already under control they lowered their weapons and came into the room. Richard and Daiya told them about everything that had happened and both women looked shocked to learn that someone as powerful as May had been controlled by someone else, like she was nothing more than a mere puppet. One thing Richard didn't mention was his dream. He didn't know how anyone would react if he told them that this wasn't the first time it had happened either.
As they explained the event, Richard and Daiya watched as Lillin and Aura stripped every piece of jewelry that May had been wearing. They weren't robbing the unconscious woman, just making sure that they removed any type of magical focus that would allow her to escape. Once they were satisfied, they bound her in the same spell Lillin had used on Richard when he was losing control and then dragged her from the room. Richard really wanted to follow them but Lillin quickly stopped him, a very serious look on her face.
'It wouldn't be wise for you to be around her right now,' his master spoke and Aura disappeared from sight as the door closed magically behind her. 'You should get some rest and we will discuss this in the morning.'
'What are you talking about? I have questions that need to be answered. Right, Daiya?' he said and turned to his wife only to find that she was shaking her head. 'Why not?'
'I know exactly how you feel, Richard,' the beautiful and half naked Dark Elf spoke softly and she took a step towards him until she was close enough to place a hand on his shoulder. 'There are many questions that need answering, but Lillin is right: This is not the time. Look at your hands, love.'
Richard looked down at his hands and realized that the rings controlling the flow of his magic had once again taken on a black color and black light seeped from them and sapped the color out of the room around his hands. In the commotion and craziness of everything that had happened he hadn't even thought about trying to maintain a level head. How could he? He had been close to dying and seeing the ghost of a man who was supposed to be dead. Surely no one could keep their cool in a situation like that.
'Rest for now,' Lillin repeated sternly, 'and I promise that first thing in the morning we will all get the answers you want. Is that understood?'
Richard didn't answer the question and instead stared at the young master with an almost evil glare. He knew in his heart that she was just looking out for his wellbeing and that she was most likely right, but right now he didn't care. He wanted to know just what the hell was going on and how any of this was possible. Lillin seemed to realize that he wouldn't just take this lying down because she quickly cut off his plan before it could even form in his mind.
'Just to make sure, I would like your bracers please,' she said and held out her hand expectantly. 'This is an order form your master!' she insisted strongly when Richard didn't comply.
At first Richard was ready to just open up and attack the woman so he could get past her, but that thought scared him and he lost all the wind out of his sails instantly. It was that black light taking over his mind and body again and he was quickly coming to realize that he really wasn't capable of handling it on his own like he kept saying he could. If he was so willing to attack one of his own friends then he didn't deserve to be wearing those bracers in the first place.
'It's okay, Richard,' Daiya spoke and entwined her long and thin fingers with his and rubbed the back of his hand in a soothing manner. 'This is for the best, and it's just until morning. Okay?'
Richard looked sideways at his wife and sighed in defeat as his guilt began to overcome to dark power trying to take over his body. He placed both hands on Lillin's outstretched ones and let the gold metal liquefy and flow over his skin until it pooled in her palms in the shape of two large and rather heavy metal discs. This was a trick he had learned by tinkering with his first bracer, a way to ensure that May or anyone else couldn't take it from him forcibly and use it for their own benefit. Only he could control the metal completely and he wasn't even sure why.
'Thank you,' Lillin closed her hands around the discs and then walked over to the door. She opened it and stepped out in the hall before turning back to them. 'I'll be locking the door until dawn, so don't try to get out. Don't worry, I will have one of the other masters watch over you in case anyone else tries to attack during the night.'
With that, Lillin closed the door with a wave of her hand and a single Word of Power. A moment later Richard heard the large lock bolt into place and he and Daiya were effectively trapped in their own room. It felt a lot like being grounded when he was a kid, only this time he knew he was going to be let out in a few hours and he wouldn't have to sit alone in the dark and pray that someone brought him a glass of water. The added bonus of having Daiya there with him was pretty nice as well, and on any other occasion he would have taken this time to have a little fun. It was pretty apparent that neither of them were in the mood for that sort of frolicking though and instead they settled into bed after stoking the fire back to a healthy level, a task made much easier with the help of a fire user.
Richard got very little sleep that night and by the time the sun rose he had already been awake for two hours, just sitting by the fireplace and letting the warmth of the flames heat his bones. The one and only time he had tried to get to sleep had been marred by a new nightmare, one of him standing alone in that massive gap in the earth. The clouds of dust kicked up by the wind carried the scent of charred bodies and he could feel the power of the spell in his bones. He feared that if he tried to sleep again he would wake up to ash and dust and find himself standing in the middle of an apocalypse. He was really getting tired of all these horrifying dreams.
Daiya had tried to stay awake with him but they both found that it was impossible. She had eventually fallen asleep while nestled in his lap with her head on his shoulder, so he had slowly and quietly put her in the bed and covered her mostly naked body up. The sound of her even breathing and the heat of her skin had been a welcome comfort to him, but he just wanted some space to think clearly. A lot of things weren't making sense to him right now and he felt even more lost than he usually did. But there was also something else lurking on the edges of his consciousness. He couldn't really explain it but he felt a little more whole, like something inside him had been partially freed. He knew if he got the answers he was looking for he could feed that feeling and maybe uncover something even bigger. He needed to talk to May though, something he was actually a little afraid of.
For so long now he had considered her his enemy; someone who was no longer his friend or former one time lover. She had tried to kill Loki, nearly killed May, attacked him on more than one occasion, and acted like some crazy stalker a person would normally encounter in a movie. They had both evolved so much from their shared time on Earth and he no longer knew who she was. He did know one thing however, she couldn't be trusted. This was something he would have to overcome if he wanted the information he desperately desired though. She held the key and he had to pry it from her hands if it was the last thing he did. She alone knew who he had once been, who the real identity of that man was, and probably more. He needed to speak to her more than anything else.
When the door was finally unlocked it was Louise who walked into the room with a large tray piled high with food and drinks that had been brought up from the kitchens. The smell of cooked food and the sound of Louise's feet pattering across the stone floor woke Daiya up and at first she seemed lost as she found herself in the bed instead of waking up on Richard's lap like she had been during most of the night.
'I didn't know what you liked... so I brought everything,' Louise beamed at Richard and placed the food down on the small table next to his seat. He could tell she was looking for some kind of recognition from him and he really wanted to provide it, but it just wasn't in him in that moment. Thankfully Daiya realized this dilemma and she quickly picked up the slack he left by remaining silent.
'Thank you, sweetie,' the sleepy woman smiled and patted on an open spot on the bed. Louise smiled big once more and jumped onto the bed next to Daiya with a light squeal. 'It's been a rough night so we really appreciate this.'
'So you two really did get attacked last night?'
'Sadly yes, but no one can beat Richard and I when we are together so we're okay,' Daiya smiled. He knew she was trying to brighten the whole ordeal up but she honestly couldn't have been more wrong with her statement; they had barely gotten away with their lives last night.
'Hey, Louise... did anyone tell you if we were allowed to leave the room yet?' Richard decided to ask. The food sitting next to him remained untouched, but not from a lack of hunger. He was actually starving but he knew if he tried to force anything into his stomach right now it probably wouldn't agree with him.
Louise looked away from Daiya and caught the serious look in Richards eye, turning instantly from the small child she could be around he and his wife and into the strong and smart Daughter of Earth that she really was. 'Master Lillin said once you have eaten your fill you are to meet her and Lady Aura down in the council chamber. I was also supposed to tell you that the person who attacked you last night is being held in the basement cell but you are not to go and see them right now. You won't be able to get in anyways.'
'Why not?' Richard asked before Daiya could say anything. He wasn't sure if she was going to ask the same thing or agree with the decision to keep him away from May right now.
'The door has been locked with a powerful spell that can only be undone by the one who cast it, or so Master Lillin says. So once you're done eating you can go and meet with your Master.'
Richard stood up from his seat and walked over to where Daiya and Louise sat in the bed together, the older woman covering up her body as much as possible with the small child sitting on the covers. He placed a gentle hand on Louise's head and patted her gently like an obedient dog, not really sure what else he should do to thank her for bringing him the message. She didn't seem to mind the gesture though and purred under the action slightly.
'You should really eat, Richard,' Daiya said softly but he quickly shook his head.
'I'm not that hungry and I think you are in the same boat as me.'
Daiya opened her mouth as if she wanted to argue the point but she quickly shut it a second later and nodded in agreement. After everything that had happened on the battlefield and the fight between Richard and May that had got Daiya caught right in the middle of it, his wife had become a part of everything. He was sure she wanted answers to what was going on just as much as him and there was also the possibility of May knowing something about how Richard can gain control of his magic once again.
They both dressed quickly, ignoring the fact that a small girl was sitting in the room trying to avoid looking at them. Richard did end up picking up a piece of buttered bread but found that he couldn't take more than a few nibbles from it. Louise was more than happy to finish it off for him though and he wondered if she had eaten breakfast yet. Usually she would be in the middle of her meditation training, but with everything that was going on it looked like the days lessons had been cancelled. It was no wonder she seemed so happy, it was like a snow day for her.
Louise led Richard and Daiya down to the large room with the long table and throne like chair he had been in a few days before. It seemed everyone else who was living at the castle was already gathered there and they had taken their seats along the table, each master sitting in the larger and more luxurious chairs that denoted their standing while the students sat in the smaller chairs right next to them. Aura stood next to the table by the chair that was meant for the Master of Arcane and Richard felt a little sad when he saw this; it was because of him that she would never get a chance to sit at the table ever.
'Did you get much rest?' Aura asked as they walked into the room and she had a genuine look of concern on her face.
'I got enough,' was all he replied with and then moved around the table until he was standing next to his adoptive mother. Daiya stood on his other side while Louise sat down next to her master at the table, her feet barely touching the ground and nothing but her head visible above the table. It looked a little comical actually, this small girl with her feet swinging back and forth as she smiled at everyone in a happy manner and was oblivious to the mood of the room.
'So now that we have all gathered together, may I ask why neither I or Master Regina are allowed to see the prisoner?' the elderly Master of Earth asked in an annoyed manner. 'I would like to remind you, Master Lillin, that your guests are just that, guests in a place they would normally never be allowed to enter.'
'I understand your concern, but I am also not being kept up to date on this prisoner,' Lillin answered and Aura shifted uncomfortably next to Richard. 'I have also not been allowed to meet with this woman who somehow managed to sneak into the castle. Why is that, Aura?'
'I do apologize for that, but I fear the situation is far more complicated than you realize. I just ask that you trust me for the time being and over look this inconvenience for a little while longer. It really is not my information to give to you,' Aura answered in an even tone and she looked towards Richard as she finished speaking. He wasn't really sure what she meant but he had a pretty good idea.
'This is ridiculous,' Zya grumbled and no one was surprised that she was upset. If anyone was going to speak out it would definitely be her. 'This criminal invaded the private sanctuary of the Elemental Masters and we are not even allowed to question her? What farce is this? I think I speak for everyone when I say we are entitled to answers right now. Like how did she get in here? Why did she target this boy and his hotheaded wife? Why are we not allowed to question her? You owe us these answers and more!'
'Calm down, Zya,' Master Regina warned her young student but there was no real conviction in her voice. She was probably thinking everything that her apprentice had just said out loud.
'No, she's right,' Richard found himself saying before he had fully thought through what he was about to do, 'you all deserve the answers you are seeking. I'm sure you've realized that there's something not quite right about me.'
'Richard, stop!' Lillin hissed loudly and stood up from her spot near the bottom of the long table. She tossed him an angry glare but he ignored her and focused on his words instead.
'My form of magic that hasn't been seen in nearly two thousand years, the dark edge that magic carries, the fact that up until recently no one had ever heard of me or seen my magic despite the fact that I am the son of a member of the Elysian royal family, and the strange way I talk. You can't tell me that none of you have been questioning who I really am.'
'You do certainly raise some pressing questions, but I don't see what this has to do with the prisoner sitting down in the lower levels right now,' Master Rio pointed out and sat forward in her chair a little to get a better look at Richard with her aged eyes.
'It has everything to do with her,' Richard answered but was quickly interrupted by Aura who was now getting a little nervous.
'This isn't wise, Richard. Only a handful of people know the truth and it was meant to be kept that way,' she warned but Richard had already gone too far to stop.
'The people gathered in this room are considered the most powerful mage's on the continent, if they can't handle the true story than I doubt anyone will. And the truth is that I am not from this world... sort of.'
The reaction his statement got was pretty much what he would expect: Lillin and Aura groaned in defeat, Zya snorted loudly at the outlandish claim, and Master Rio and Regina looked at him like he had lost his mind. The only ones who didn't seem fazed by this information were Daiya and Louise. Louise mostly looked intrigued as she was too young to think that his claim was very improbable. It took a few moments for the hidden meaning in his statement to be found by the eldest Master in the room.
'What do you mean by sort of?' Master Rio asked skeptically and now Master Regina seemed to catch on as well.
'Two thousand years ago I apparently went by another name, one you are all familiar with: Roku.'
'That's rich!' Zya laughed loudly and she slammed her hands down on the table as her legs kicked out in a stupid manner as she over sold her fit of giggles. 'You honestly expect us to believe that you are some kind of immortal and the legendary Master of Light to boot?!'
'It's true,' Daiya spoke up and she took a step towards the table as she eyed the Daughter of Water with a look of contempt. 'Master Roku, the Master and Creator of Light Magic was the only one able to use its power and not a single person has been able to replicate it even to this day. Richard truly does come from another world, one called Earth. I have seen this place with my own eyes and it is beyond anything you can imagine.'
'They're not going to believe you,' Lillin sighed and sat back down in her seat, folding her hands on the table as she looked out over everyone gathered around her. 'If the former Wind and Lightning Masters hadn't kept a record of Roku and kept an eye out on the world in hopes of finding his reborn body, then I never would have believed that Richard truly is the reincarnation of the greatest mage to have ever lived. As for him coming from a different world, I myself find it difficult to believe.'
'You must understand this,' Master Rio added. 'What you are claiming is impossible. How can we take the word of some young man when he has no real proof.'
'If you won't take his word for it, then will you take the word of a former Elemental Master?' Aura asked and then took a step forward. She reached into a pocket on her leather pants and tossed a small ring onto the table. 'This ring is a lost focus that once belonged to the Master of Fire and a companion of Roku, Master Monica. It holds her family's mark and the sigil of the Fire Master that had been lost when she disappeared ages ago.'
Master Regina picked the ring up gently and held it in front of her eyes, a surprised and shocked look painting her face. 'How did you find this? Master Monica was considered the strongest fire mage in history and this ring supposedly vanished with her.'
'I found the ring in the possession of the woman we have locked up in the basement. She is also from the same world that Richard hails from and goes by a different name, but it is only a cover. When Richard told me of her true identity I could hardly believe it myself, but now I have all the proof I need. She is a powerful fire mage that only Richard can fight evenly with, she is the only other human capable of riding a dragon along with Richard, she had this ring on her and it only acknowledges the blood of her family, and she was able to infiltrate Castle Islan without setting off any alarms and during a night with no moon. The woman downstairs is Master Monica, the Lady of Dragons.'
'You've seen her ride a dragon?' Master Rio asked and Aura nodded.
'I have seen this as well, at the battle where Richard lost control,' Daiya added and once more Zya snorted with laughter.
'Try the ring and see if it works for you as a focus,' Aura offered and Master Regina slowly moved it towards her finger. 'The sigil and family crest are proof enough that this ring is as I say it is. It is one of a few legendary focuses that only work for a single person. If you need more proof you can also try using Richard's bracers as well. They work the same way.'
Regina placed the ring on her finger and held it into the air, closing her eyes and uttering a short incantation that Richard recognized as a low level arcane spell that create an orb of arcane power. As the words left her mouth everyone watched as the ring remained dark and nothing happened, a sign that the ring did not recognize her as its owner. After a few moments the Master of Water and Ice lowered her hand and looked at the ring intently as her brow creased in confusion.
'And this woman we have as a captive used this ring to cast a spell?' the woman asked and now it was Richard's turn to speak again.
'She cast some sort of fire spell that took the form of a man who could speak and move like normal.'
'It's a high level spell that I'm not even familiar with. It might have been a spell she herself created that was lost when she vanished from this world,' Daiya explained. If she didn't know what kind of fire spell it was than Richard was sure that it must have been something created by May. As far as he was concerned, Daiya was the second strongest fire mage in the world.
Silence took over as Richard, Daiya, and Aura waited for everyone to soak up the information that had just been dumped on them all at once. It was asking a lot for them to believe every little thing they had just been told, but there was no other way around it. Richard really didn't know how or even if this would change things, but he really didn't care anymore. From the moment he met Aura and the former Queen he had been hiding who and what he really was, and he was honestly getting sick of it. Who knew, maybe this would improve things in some way.
'If what you claim is true, then we have made a grave mistake by imprisoning Master Monica in the dungeons,' Master Regina sighed and she didn't sound very convinced. 'We should release her and ask her personally if your allegations are true. As unbelievable as they are.'
'That would be unwise,' Richard said through gritted teeth as he tried to remain calm. He knew his rings were starting to glow black and if he didn't get his emotions under control he would be forcibly removed from the room.
'Master Monica, or May as she goes by now, is far too dangerous to let wander around unsupervised. Do not forget that she attacked Richard and Daiya last night, and this isn't the first time. On a number of occasions she assaulted them and even forcibly sent Richard back to his own world. Also, it was through her actions that Richard lost control during the battle and ended up succumbing to his magic.'
'I agree with Lady Aura,' Master Rio said loudly and stood up from her seat, her bones creaking from the effort on her old body, 'we must not underestimate the Lady of Dragons, if that is who she truly is. We must question her and learn the truth from the source, about who she is and why she tried to kill young Richard. We must learn these truths before we decide what to do with her. Are there any who oppose this idea?'
No one spoke for a moment, but Richard knew that someone had a problem with it, and eventually Zya stood up from her seat and kicked it away from the back of her legs in a rough manner. 'I still believe this is some ploy by the Masters of Fire and Arcane in an attempt to take Castle Islan back, so I must oppose this route.'
'As you are but a student you have no rights to voice your opinion on this matter, Zya,' Lillin said quickly and the other two masters nodded their agreement. 'If your teacher, Regina shares your same ideal than let her speak now.'
Master Regina looked from the young redheaded master towards her slightly older student, a thoughtful glint in her eyes as she tried to figure everything out. Richard was coming to realize that the Master of Water and Ice was a very intellectual and logical person and she would probably reserve judgment until she had all the facts available.
'I have no complaints,' she said after a while and Zya flashed her master an evil look before sitting back down in her seat. 'I agree that we must question the woman who is being called Master Monica and learn the truth for ourselves. However, I also agree with Lady Aura in her assessment that this woman is not to be trusted wandering our halls. Even if she is not the Lady of Dragons and she somehow managed to fool this ring into believing she was the only one who could wield it, then she is still far more powerful than anyone else here. For now, I suggest that she remain in her cell.'
'I second that,' Lillin added quickly and even Master Rio nodded, albeit reluctantly. 'Now that we have that settled, how should we do this?'
This was the moment Richard had been waiting for, even if it was a long shot. He quickly stepped up to the table and held his hand above his head like he was some small child asking to go to the bathroom in the middle of class. All eyes were instantly on him and he noticed the knowing look in Lillin's as she had undoubtedly guessed what he was going to ask for. He only hoped she was in a kind mood this morning.
'I'd like to speak with her first. I know you all have questions that you want to ask, but I hope you can understand how important it is for me to speak with her for a few moments before you try to get your answers out of her.'
'Absolutely out of the question!' Master Rio answered loudly and for a moment Richard was sure it had been Lillin to speak instead. 'If she is as dangerous as we believe she is, then it would not be wise to hand the one she was after last night like that.'
'I must agree with Master Rio's assessment,' Aura said from behind him and Richard could feel her concerned eyes on his back, 'it is far to reckless for you to go in there.'
'You would be going in there without either one of your focuses, Richard,' Lillin added but there was something in her voice that had him feeling a little hopeful. 'She has proven before that she is capable of wielding them so we can't give her the chance to getting her hands on one again. I also don't like the idea of you going in there alone.'
'What are you saying, Lillin?' Aura demanded angrily and she was quickly standing next to the younger woman. 'Are you honestly going to let Richard go in there and speak with her? Have you forgotten about what happened the last time they were face to face?'
'I have not forgotten, that would be impossible. But I believe that he is right, his questions are far more pressing than ours right now and as the one who was attacked, he has every right to face her once more. Besides, how can we ever expect him to control his more aggressive emotions if we don't let him face the one person who tipped the scales in the first place?'
'I understand where you are coming from, but what happens if he loses control again? Sending him in there on his own like that is too dangerous and I will not stand for it!'
'I won't be alone,' Richard said softly and took a deep breath as he forced his emotions down, 'Daiya will be coming with me. She has just as much right as I do to speak with her first, and she can keep an eye on things just in case. Right?' he asked and turned to his wife who looked like she was caught off guard slightly. She stood slightly behind him with her arms crossed over her chest and an almost frightened look in her eyes. And why wouldn't she be scared? May had tried to kill her once.
'Y... yes... I'll make sure Richard remains calm,' she answered slowly and he flashed her a thankful smile that she returned to the best of her ability.
Aura looked like she still had various other problems with what was being said, but she realized that if Richard wanted to grow then this was something he probably needed to do. The other Masters also remained silent and Richard took this as a good sign. Before anyone could change their minds he grabbed Daiya gently by the hand and led her from the room, heading towards the staircase that he hoped led down to the lower levels. He had no idea what he would learn or if he would be able to keep his cool, but there were a million different things he needed answers to and he had to take any risk to get them.