Prince Lyle of Shusoran, Princess Lena of Satera, the androids Mieu and Wren, King Cille, and the castle guards were not the only ones to witness the reunion of Rhys and Maia. One other witnessed the event, though he was not in Castle Cille's throne room . In fact, he wasn't even in Aquatica.
Deep within the ancient city of Lashute, which floated high above the surface of the distant world Terminus, a 1,027-year old man (who didn't look a day over 30) sat in a throne. Slowly, he opened his eyes, steepled his fingers, and hummed a brief, "Hmm. "
His top aide, a young woman named Zorta, was standing nearby and heard the sound. "Lord Rulakir?" she inquired. "Has something happened."
Orakio's twin brother, believed to have been killed in the Devastation War, turned to Zorta and flashed her a brief smile of amusement. "Prince Rhys of Landen has just been reunited with Princess Maia of Cille." He shrugged his shoulders. "I just didn' t think it would happen, that's all."
"Is there anything I should do, lord?" Zorta inquired.
"Why should there be?" Rulakir asked.
"Well..." Zorta started. Then, she closed her mouth before shrugging and adding, "I just thought that would be unacceptable."
"The two may get married, and they may not." He waved his hand. "But it really does not matter, either way."
"I'm confused, my lord," Zorta admitted. "Didn't you appear to Prince Lyle of Shusoran in a dream to encourage him to seek Maia in Landen, for the purposes of re-starting the Devastation War?"
"That is partly correct," Rulakir nodded. "I did appear to Lyle, but my action was not designed to start a new conflict, but instead, it was designed so that in his inevitable search for his bride, Rhys would do for me what I can not do for myself."
"Reopen the gateways between the worlds," Zorta nodded, smiling with understanding.
"Exactly," Rulakir beamed, standing up to pace with excitement. "And look overhead, Zorta. Last night, the moons returned. That is what is of importance. The moons have returned!"
"I have frequently heard you speak of this. What makes the moons' return so significant?"
"I'll show you," Rulakir smiled. He extended his hand, beckoning Zorta to approach. She stepped to him and he placed his hand on her forehead, allowing her to see all that he could see. As the young girl closed her eyes, she instantly found herself alo ne in some kind of large, ornate, pillared room, with a series of glass panels acting as the floor. At the front of this room were two large mechanical chambers of some kind resembling--
"They look like coffins," she said. Though no one else was in the room, she knew Rulakir could hear her.
They are sleeping chambers, she heard Rulakir say. She knew he was just saying the words back in the Lashute throne room, but he sounded distant, as if he were thousands of miles away. Cryogenic sleeping chambers, to be precise. Step forward. Look inside them. Tell me who you see.
She walked to the chamber on the right, wiped her hand across the viewport glass to clear away the fog, and peered inside. She saw a lovely young girl, about her age, with long light green hair and a blue headband tied across her forehead. "I do not kno w who this is," she finally admitted.
Step to the other chamber. Look in it, Rulakir commanded. She did so, wiping the glass, and when she looked inside, she immediately recognized the cryogenic chamber's occupant. The handsome babyfaced man, who, like the woman, had long light gree n hair and a blue headband tied across his forehead, could be only one person. "Lune!" she exclaimed. "Lord Rulakir, it is Lune!"
"Precisely," Rulakir said as he removed his hand from her forehead. She blinked her eyes, and she was back in Lashute's throne room. "And you now, of course, recognize the woman, as well?"
"His sister Alair," Zorta replied. "I have seen them in your mind many times."
Rulakir nodded and returned to his throne before explaining. "That was the purple moon, Dahlia. Its return to its proper orbit has activated the alarm clock systems on Lune and Alair's sleeping chambers. Since they have slept for so long, it will take time -- perhaps even two decades -- for them to awake. But the point is, Lune is back. And on the other moon, Azura... Siren awaits.
"Do you see now, Zorta, why the return of the moons is so significant, and why the reunion of Prince Rhys and Princess Maia is so insignificant?"
"Yes, lord," Zorta replied, the wicked smile on her face almost as big as Rulakir's. "Once Lune awakens, you will easily be able to manipulate he and Siren into achieving our ultimate goal -- the Second Devastation War."
"Yesssss..." Rulakir nodded, closing his eyes and resting his head on the back of his chair as his entire body stiffened. "Then, finally, my master will be able to complete his work."
When Rulakir opened his eyes, his pupils and irises were gone. In their place, his eyes glowed bright red. By the same token, when he spoke, Orakio's twin brother's voice was only half his own. The other half was the voice of something straight from hell.
"Finally, my master will return to destroy Alisa III once... and... for all...," he growled. Then, his eyes still a bright red, he started to laugh. Soon, Zorta joined him.
Mota is going to flood! Run for your lives! It's a catastrophe!
|Please send all comments and feedback to mike at ripplinger dot us|