The Dark Empire, Page 155-159 by Wolfenshire ()
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The Dark Empire, Page 155-159
The Judges also pointed out that Emperor Aestar had given the Ravens very clear instructions. They were to build five worlds from which they would govern the Crystal Universe, with the clear exception of New Aiden. The Aidens were to govern themselves exclusively; the Ravens had exceeded their given authority. The Mathor Judges had passed sentence on Governor Santi, though the sentence was more an opportunity for growth than it was a punishment. The Judges had gone on to include Lord Rotathian and King Madious in a strongly worded ultimatum to share in the sentence if they were to have access to Mathor assistance in the future.
Zil was still sitting in a corner having a conversation with two empty chairs. Lord Rotathian shook his head at the unusual Mathor boy and walked across the room to Governor Santi and King Madious. The two rulers were intently watching Zil’s conversation.
“He does make one wonder at the wisdom of the sentence,” said Rotathian.
“I’m not so sure he’s talking to himself,” said Governor Santi. “The Raven Jinn have those talk boxes, perhaps the Mathor Jinn have something we don’t know about.”
Madious gave Rotathian a nod. “Can you understand what he’s saying?” asked King Madious.
“No, he’s talking too fast and I only know about fifty sign-gestures in their language so far.”
King Madious shifted on his feet as he watched Zil. “So, are we going to comply with the sentence?”
Rotathian shifted his gaze to watch Zil. “I don’t think there is any reason to not comply. Zil has obviously been an asset to the Raven Jinn, and I think a Mathor Body Protector could be an asset to each of us as well.”
King Madious frowned. “Provided they aren’t spies for the Emperor, or the Mathor Council. If I think for a moment the one assigned to me is a liability, I’ll send it home.”
Rotathian lifted a gauntleted hand to King Madious. “So long as you don’t kill it. Don’t think I didn’t notice your ship’s priest is missing.”
King Madious feigned an innocent expression. “Poor fellow, in his zest to minister to his flock, he was likely so exhausted he fell over-board in the night. Compensation was sent to his family for his heroic service to the crown.”
“Mmhm, just make sure your Mathor doesn’t fall over-board,” warned Rotathian.
King Madious lifted his head slightly. “Ah, the Prince Consort appears to have completed his conversation with the chairs.”
Zil stopped in front of the three Aiden rulers and smiled broadly. “We can swim and hold our breath a very long time. Come on, your Body Protectors have been selected.” Zil turned and walked towards the door.
Rotathian glanced at Madious. “And apparently have very good hearing as well. You might want to keep that in mind.” Rotathian started to turn to follow Zil, but Santi held a hand up.
“Hold on, did you see that?”
Lord Rotathian shook his head. “See what?”
“There’s a healed scar on his forehead, he didn’t have a scar when the trial started.”
“I don’t recall Zil having a scar, are you certain?” asked Rotathian.
“Take a look at him, you’ll see it,” said Santi.
Lord Rotathian nodded and led the way out of the room. Zil was in the hall waiting for them, but not just waiting, he was wagging his finger at the wall as if the wall had just given some unknown offense. Rotathian stopped and Zil turned to face him. Rotathian searched Zil’s forehead but saw no scar.
“Are you taking us there alone?” asked Rotathian.
Zil shrugged and dropped his tail. The section with the barb tipped forward slightly; it was the gesture for ‘I don’t know’. Rotathian made no indication that he understood, if Zil’s hearing was good enough to over-hear Madious from across the room, then Zil had heard him say he understood some of his language and was now testing him. Rotathian didn’t want Zil to know how much he understood.
Zil must have decided Rotathian hadn’t understood and spoke verbally. “I don’t know, yet,” said Zil.
Rotathian had seen Zil make the gesture ‘I don’t know’ before to Tarlock Malic, but Zil had added a qualifier to the end of his verbal sentence; there must have been another gesture Rotathian had missed for the word ‘yet’. He would have to see Zil repeat the gesture several more times to find where the missing word had been.
Zil turned around and hopped away, and continued hopping like a rabbit escaping the hunting dogs. Zil hopped to the end of the hall, and the entire time repeating with his tail ‘I don’t know’, ‘I don’t know’, ‘I don’t know’. Rotathian frowned, certain now the boy was playing games with him.
Rotathian turned back to Governor Santi and silently mouthed the words, ‘No scar’.
Governor Santi shrugged and silently mouthed back, ‘It was there, watch him’.
Rotathian noticed the Mathor soldiers were taking up positions outside some of the more sensitive rooms in the Crystal Palace. On a whim he diverted into one of the guarded rooms; the Mathor soldier didn’t try to stop him. King Madious tried the same thing and again wasn’t challenged. Governor Santi tried it and was blocked by the soldier.
Governor Santi glared at the soldier before turning away. “I guess I’m Crawler wheel-mud around here until I get my babysitter.”
“It could have been worse,” said Madious. “Oh, and by the way, why is it that during that illusion testimony Rotathian was the hero that fought the Mather army to save kids while I was the bumbling reluctant fool that had to wait on the beach for a ride?”
Governor Santi gave Madious a sour side glance and Lord Rotathian answered. “The only part of the testimony that was true as the first part that showed what happened between Santi and the Ravens. The last part of the illusion was the Mathors making him see the worst case scenario of what could have happened as a result of his actions. There is nothing wrong with the raktor, it was all just a fantasy.”
They reached the hanger bay in time to see the five new silver chariots fly into the blue light of the open gate and disappear. Zil was standing next to the sixth silver chariot, the original one Emperor Aestar had used.
“There goes our new Crawlers,” said Santi.
“You got the Titans, don’t be greedy,” said Rotathian.
“Does that mean I get the boats stored over there,” said Madious with a jerk of his head.
Rotathian looked over at the pleasure boats stored in racks. “Yes, I would like for you to bring some sailors here and get those in the water. We need to start fishing and become self-sufficient as soon as possible.”
King Madious nodded. “Since the Mathor Judges ordered the barriers unlocked, I’ll bring two of my ships out here for defense and to coordinate the new fishing fleet.”
Zil saw the three Aiden rulers coming and ran up the ramp to enter the silver chariot. Just as Zil reached the hatch and was bending down to enter through the hatch, the Ravens returned through the gate on foot. Jasai saw Zil and called out. “Hey Zil, wait up.”
Zil stopped and stood up, and banged his head on the top edge of the hatch. He cried out in pain and clutched at his head as he staggered back down the ramp while cursing like one of Madious' sailors. Rotathian could see blood between Zil’s fingers. Jasai ran to Zil. “You idiot, are you okay?”
Rotathian glanced at Santi. “That’s going to leave a scar,” he whispered.
“The question is, how did he have a scar before he hit his head?” said Santi.
Lord Raven and Prince Raen came over to check on Zil. Jasai was fussing over him and trying to get a cloth wrapped around his head. Rotathian went to Raen and Roael. “You weren’t gone long. I assume that means the silver chariots are hidden nearby.”
Raen’s expression was full of anger. “They are in a cavern about five hundred feet beneath the surface, and they aren’t hidden. We saw in Governor Santi’s trial illusion that it would be very easy for us to lose everything. I want a prepared location for evacuation if something such as a reactor core meltdown were to occur.”
Rotathian nodded. “A fallback castle is a wise idea, but if the Chariot of the Gods were to be destroyed, and with it the gate, how would we get the evacuees and the chariots back out? Is there an exit?”
Raen shook his head. “There are no entrances from the surface to the cavern. We’ve activated a permanent Crystal Bridge and placed it in the cavern. The Crystal Bridge is large enough for the Splinter ships to slip through, but not the train. We are assuming there wouldn’t be enough time to move the train, just as we saw in Santi’s illusion.”
“I will help with food and supplies if you allow it,” said Lord Rotathian. “I want us to remain allies.”
“We are angry that the Mathor Judges ruled as they did, but it doesn’t change what needs to be done,” said Raen. “Jasai is going with you, she’s been through this and knows what to expect. We can talk again in a few hours when you return.”
Rotathian nodded and turned away. Prince Raen’s story was plausible, but unlikely. The fallback position was an escape route for the Ravens if it came to that, and Jasai was likely being sent to protect the silver chariot from being taken by the Aiden. Rotathian boarded the silver chariot and took a seat with Governor Santi and King Madious. Jasai and Zil settled into the two pilot chairs up front. Rotathian wondered who was going to control the gate. Jasai and Zil were the only two of the Raven Jinn that knew how the gate worked…unless…
Rotathian watched Zil prepare the silver chariot to leave for the Mathor world. Yes, there was only one way Zil could have had a healed scar on his forehead before he had injured himself…there was more than one Zil.