by: Ken Williams
Mrdinar and Mikkren Glarigas were sharpening their swords. After Nima rose from the dead, Mrdinar expected that another assassin would come again. So much felt wrong about that night. He couldn’t stop hearing the words “Power without service is pain”. He knew those words.
“It wasn’t Hydrops,” Mrdinar said, stunning Mikkren.
“Mrdinar, this coming from the brother who probably likes Hydros the best aside from Keuryl, it was Hydrops. It had to be. How else do you explain her getting sick right after we get back from Pyros?”
Mrdinar sighed, “I don’t doubt he’s the reason she’s dead, but her coming back… that was dark magic. Dobrahadran. There is no way Hydrops is using Dobrahadran magics.”
“How do you know it’s Dobrahadran?”
“‘Power without service is pain’. The last words she said to me.”
Mikkren was right to be skeptical. They were allied with Daemon Scareye, one of Dobrahadra’s most power demons, second to Darstromath the Black, whom Mrdinar expected to come to lead the Black Atular again, but sadly was nowhere to be found.
“If it was Dobrahadran, who do you think rose her up?”
“Who else but Gylnul?”
Mikkren rolled his eyes. Mrdinar and Gylnul had been at each other’s throats for years. With their father dead, much of the family politics had devolved into plotting against each other. If Gylnul had found out the truth of how Orinar Glarigas died, it would not be a stretch to believe that she would have used necromancy to raise Nima to kill him. No one would believe that she was the necromancer, as shown by Mikkren’s reaction.
“Mrdinar, I know you and Gylnul have your differences, but that is insane. Gylnul would not try to kill you. We are a family.”
“Mikk, do you really believe that?”
“Yes, I do.” Mikkren scowled at Mrdinar, “Not to mention that if you acted on these suspicions, you’d plunge us into a civil war, which would not be favorable as Hydros is growing its army and preparing for war. For now, our priority should be making alliances, building our forces, and returning Keuryl from Hydros.”
“Ridding ourselves of Scareye should also be in the plan. Bringing him to our world was a mistake. I should have just been happy with where I was and maybe tried to find other dark rituals.”
“It’s too late for that, Mrdinar. The damage is done. Because of your actions, we now have the potential for an empire the likes of which Gelondar has never seen. Could you imagine ten years from now? We could rule the whole world. No Atular nation has
been able to do that. Hydros is only being held together by Hydrops the Second. If we can destroy him, then the world is ours for the taking.”
Mrdinar sighed, “Nima said the same thing. She wanted that smug Hydrosian dead, and you know what happened. She’s dead, he’s alive. End of story.”
Mikkren burst out laughing, “So the great Mrdinar Glarigas is giving up on is people? Hmm, maybe Gylnul would be a better leader than you.”
Mrdinar jumped up, enraged, “She would not! She could never conquer Hydros!”
“Yes!” Mrdinar screamed and instantly regretted it. Battling Hydros would be near impossible, but if he took the other Atular nations, it might be possible.
“That’s the Mrdinar I know and love. Obviously we shouldn’t go to war yet, but let’s find the best way to destabilize Hydros.”
The two were interrupted by a page. He came in and said meekly, “Emperor Scareye needs to speak with both of you. He has called for all the Glarigas siblings.”
Mrdinar and Mikkren went to the dome at the top of the Citadel where Scareye made his abode to meet his siblings and the new Emperor. He couldn’t move from his throne due to the weakness of his legs. His screw teeth were always visible because his mouth gaped open. If the creature could stand, it would probably be the most intimidating monster Mrdinar had ever seen, far worse than Tarkes or Watr, but paralyzed, unmoving, using a rotting corpse as a telekinetic dummy to speak, it was
pathetic. Mrdinar wanted to give it the gift of mercy, and it would be all too easy. The monster finally started to speak through its corpse puppet,
“Glarigasss family, I have summoned you here for an assssignment. You will need the sixth, however. Keuryl is in Hydrosss, correct?”
Gylnul spoke up, “Yes, Emperor. Keuryl was at Hydros University. She is supposed to graduate soon. Afterward. I assume she would return to Ebon Atul where she belongs. I assume after that, we will finally meet Lord Darstromath the Black?”
“No, she won’t. She has devoted herself to the cause of Hydrosss. She hopes to rule Ebon Atul if Hydrosss invades. Unfortunately, I ssstill have need of her. One of you must retrieve her for me. And no. Lord Darssstromath will not be coming. His time isss done.”
Mrdinar couldn’t let Gylnul volunteer and steal this opportunity from him. “I’ll get her!” he shouted.
“How do you plan to do that, Mrdinar?” Gylnul scoffed.
“I shall duel Hydrops. The winner shall have Keuryl.”
The room laughed. He knew that dueling Hydrops was a mistake, especially since even if Mrdinar could potentially kill him, either Moss Stone, Hyran Deep, or Iviara Watr would tag him out.
“Very well, Mrdinar,” Scareye’s dummy said, “If you believe you can do thisss, then I shall not attempt to stop you. I wish you the bessst of luck. You depart in three months.”