Celebrations or tragedy?
Down below the fortress the novice mages were practising their scrying under the watchful eyes of Master Armin. Catarina already adept at scrying was testing the distance different liquids allowed her to see. Water was surprisingly short, extending only a meter or so beyond the walls of the fortress. But with a few drops of a red-orange liquid Rahm called water-fire she was able to extend her reach to the edge of the Twelve Kingdoms and beyond. Moving her hands in small circular movements she whispered, “Show me Chalamore.”
The liquid turned from red to blue before turning black. The city of Chalamore slowly came into focus. Catarina gently turned the scene around to view all approaches to the city.
Suddenly she was disturbed from her musing as one of the apprentices cried out. Master Armin quickly moved to her side and looked over her shoulder. Catarina came and stood beside him. The scene showed Dameon and Cassius running along one of the lower level corridors, weapons unsheathed.
“What have they done now?” Catarina asked.
Master Armin shrugged, “I do not know but we had better go. Luka, Rahm come with us.” He moved out of the Catacombs, his cloak swirling behind him. Catarina hurried after him with Luka and Rahm following her. They moved through the corridors like wraith’s following Master Armin’s expert directions.
I turned around as I heard a voice call my name. I tensed as I saw Alex walking towards me looking murderous. He pulled a knife from his belt and advanced towards me. I unsheathed both my swords and flicked them into the Shien reverse grip.
“What do you want,” I asked.
“Your position,” Alex replied. “I know your next in line for the throne and I want that position”.
He unleashed a devastating side cut, I blocked it a retaliated with an overhead cut. He blocked it. I disengaged and leapt backwards.
Suddenly without warning Alex let loose a piercing whistle. I slumped unconscious to the floor. Alex sheathed his knife and picking me up, carried me towards the dungeons.
Cassius and Dameon had reached the sixth floor before they ran into Catarina, Rahm and the others.
“What did you too do now?” Catarina asked in exasperation.
“Nothing,” Cassius snapped. “We were suddenly attacked by a group of six Ki’miri for no reason.”
“Did they say anything?” Rahm asked.
“Well,” Dameon paused “They asked if the Queen had seemed a little bit distracted and when we said ‘yes’ they attacked.”
“I was afraid of that,” Luka muttered.
“What do you mean,” Rahm and Dameon asked at the same time.
Luka appeared to consider her words before speaking, “Well, a few days ago I awoke with an uneasy feeling so I tried a bit of scrying before breakfast and was slowly scanning the fortress when I noticed a small group of Ki’miri muttering together. I tried to get closer but they must have sensed me because the liquid I was using was wiped clear. I think they may be the same group that attacked you.”
“Could be,” Cassius muttered. He stepped forward and held out the dagger, “The attackers were using these. The bear the emblem of the Misted Realm or more directly the Cathrak Clan.”
“I knew it.” Luka turned to Master Armin, “The followers of Chief Marrek have invaded those here of weak minds and he plans to overthrow the Queen.”
“How do you know this?” Master Armin asked.
Luka swallowed nervously “I…” she stopped again and bit her lip “I was…initiated into their group at one point.” She said finally pulling up her right sleeve to show them a scar-like tattoo that was the same shape asthe emblem on the dagger. “But I abandoned their group after the second meeting.”
“Why did you go in the first place?” Cassius asked.
“Well,” Luka shifted uncomfortably “they wanted a informant on the inside and they captured me because they knew no one would suspect me.”
“But why would they need someone on the inside.” Master Armin asked, “They were Ki’miri themselves.”
“Yes,” Luka agreed “but they needed a informant in all circles of Ki’miri society and since none of them were mages I was…” she stopped again leaving the rest unsaid.
“We have to warn the Queen,” Cassius said urgently, “and find Serah.”
The group whirled around as hurried footsteps sounded from behind them. They turned around and saw Alex running towards them looking stressed. “You guys haven’t seen Serah have you? I meet her just before lunch but then when I looked for her in the kitchen she wasn’t there.”
“Well we can’t worry about it now,” Dameon said, “We have to warn the Queen.”
“Warn the Queen? Why?”
“We believe that there is a group within the fortress that wish harm to the Queen and her followers,” Luka explained.
“We just encountered a group of them on the training fields,”Dameon explained. “They just attacked us for no reason.”
“I was afraid of this,” Alex muttered. “For a while now I’ve felt a hostile presence in this fortress but don’t worry about the Queen yet. They won’t do anything with Serah here which is why we need to find her immediately.”
“You can look for her but you will not find her,” a voice suddenly spoke from behind them.
They spun around to find another Alex standing at there.
Alex stepped forward, “So you have returned. I thought I sensed a strange presence.”
“Who are you?” Luka asked.
The first Alex gestured at him, “He’s the leader of the rebel group here. He’s a shape shifter that was sighted here a few year’s ago.”
Dark Alex smiled “So, you knew I had returned?”
“How could I not know,” Alex replied scornfully. “Your presence has already confused many of my fellow Ki’miri. However this ends today.”
“Are you going to fight me?” Dark Alex asked with just the hint of a smile.