"It's good to see you back again friend." Barris said, with a bit of emotional intensity.
Enough so that it may have caught some off guard.
"Oh stop playing with me. I'm a bit sore from that encounter." Sato said changing from the smile he'd shared with Feylashar to a gruff face he reserved for Barris.
"I am sorry my friend that I could not rend and end to what that vile soul had to us sent. It is good to see that peace has been found between you, the Eclipse and the Butterfly of course." the large Dragon Weltherwithsp said while still in their presence, its serpentine body held in place by two enormous butterfly wings.
"Sato, you could have slaughtered that man. Lorr. Even with his magic you could have ended it all right here." Barris said almost in disbelief that Sato had been felled so easily by the Power Lord.
"My friend, I would thank you for your vote of confidence but I cannot for it is a display of ego on your part and as such it imposes a weight upon me that is not right to entertain." Sato responded to Barris.
"But I've seen you in action. In that Estate in L'Arbour D'Noir. You acted through me and I felt limitless ability through your guidance." Barris said almost disappointed to have seen Sato felled so easily by the Power Lord.
"I agree. I mean Heyl... er... my Butterfly friend here took on an army of high powered creeps at once by herself to rescue me and our friends. Seeing her fall to the Power guy... uhhh... Power Lord there was a bit of a surprise." Monique still in her Eclipse costume said backing up Barris' point.
"I could explain but I would it if you would, Sato?" Heylyn aka the Butterfly Dragon conferred with Sato as to whether he could express their reasons for falling in battle.
"Then I will do so, Butterfly. The one you saw there, Lorr who is also known as the Power Lord is a very ancient force. He has been around since before the Shogunates. Before even the Dynasties. Before the Castes of India and before the stones of the first pyramids. Before even the Gardens of Babylon or the epic flood described by Gilgamesh. Before our earliest histories this... human man transcended the limits of mortality. He betrayed his wife and his children which he kept against her wishes. He has lived long and therefore he is an elder. Far older even than myself." Sato explained to Barris and those gathering in the assembly hall.
"What does that have to do with anything if he is evil and hurting people?" Barris asked affronting Sato's explanation before it was expressed.
"Yeah! If he's the big man behind all of this evil then why don't you just cut him down?" Monique asked looking first to Heylyn and then back to Sato.
Sato looked over to Jasmer and Yirfir who'd joined their conversation in listening. Jasmer looked back to Sato nodding and in essence giving his OK that Sato explain the situation.
"If we were to smite the Power Lord with all of our force and power, he would only become a martyr and it would not be long before the one who did the smiting became the new force to be reckoned with." Sato explained.
"But he's clearly evil! You'd be doing the world a favor!" Barris said to Sato.
"I agree! If this guy is half as bad as you say he is, then he deserves it!" Monique added to Barris' testimony.
"In some cultures around the world, age is revered." Heylyn said to Barris, Monique and all of those listening.
"But you're old and wise... er.... sorry 'bout the old part. You're a seasoned veteran." Barris said happy with his choice of words.
|Barris and Mila|
Heylyn looked to Sato and he once again nodded and continued.
"If I or the Butterfly were to just destroy him by force, we would betray everything that we stand for and vilify ourselves in the process. Despite the fact that he looks much younger than I do, he is still in the neighborhood of ten thousand years old. He is an elder far in advance of my own age. For me to cut him down would appear to some as if a teenager had cut down an elderly man. Likewise with the Butterfly. It would fuel the fires of revenge and most certainly it would pit us as the enemy. The world congress would cut its ties with the Sanctum and we would become exiles. In such a case it would be nearly impossible for us to do our job and worse, someone would take Lorr's place. His twin offspring. They would be followed blindly by the Norbids and any whom they'd lured into their circle." Sato said looking to each Monique and Barris.
"It wouldn't stop there either. The twins are very powerful. Perhaps the most potent practitioners of the weave there are. Should they ever gain this leadership over the Norbids without the bridled restraint practiced even by someone as crass as Lorr, it would mean chaos and eradication for the world and subservience under their rule." Jasmer explained going by his memories of the fall of the first Sanctum.
"The human trafficking ring we are taking down would seem like a day care by comparison. The entirety of the world would be enslaved to the rule of the twins and the Norbids. Women. Children. Men. All of us. And worst of all once again would be the rule of might means right rather than might for right." Yirfir summed up Jasmer's contempt of the Power Lords.
"Nice touch, quoting T.H. White too. Cheers sweetheart." Barris said winking to Yirfir.
Yirfir smirked somewhat pleasantly at Barris.
"Perhaps it is a sign of unity amongst us that in that moment that none of us did in fact take that Power Lord down. It was fate. Destiny?" Heylyn contemplated aloud.
"It could safely be said that we do indeed fight on the same side and for the same mores. Perhaps that is how we should conduct ourselves in the future rather than fall prey to machinations of Lorr, his twins and the Norbids?" Thara her dark and boding shadow presence illuminating their path.
"I agree. Jeong, Jexelen, we should make this official." Lady Soon addressed her husband.
"Then so shall it be done. Let it be known that from this day forth that we shall work together as allies. Xenshi and Xushu however I give you the responsibility of staying in touch with Weltherwithsp and the Butterfly. Of keeping us in sync as it were." Jeong Soon addressed Xenshi and Xushu.
"We must get you back there soon. Time passes differently here in the midspace where the Sanctum is located in temporality. Time does not pass here and you will return to the ship at the very moment you left for the Sanctum. However, if you are gone too long even the precariously weak senses of the uninitiated will tune into the fact that something about you has changed. That you've experienced more time than they have, though it will come from them in other ways. Irritation with you. Suspicion. Perhaps even the urgency to interrogate you. You should return very soon." Athandra urged them.
"I agree. Not to mention that we need you to be alert for they are about to make communication with the leadership of their criminal organization." Jexelen informed them.
"We are all healed thanks to the magics of Feylashar. She is much strained and understaffed as Haether Dovensoul is currently away on assignment with Sir Manfred and Kenshin. We should take advantage of our good health now and return to the ship. No doubt we will be spending our health soon in the name of good." Xenshi responded looking to Feylashar.
Xenshi and Xushu floated over to Feylashar.Xenshi's hand gracefully found the end of a strand of Feylashar's hair. She held her fingers there momentarily. Her aura flowed through her fingers attaching itself to the end of the strand of hair glowing brilliantly.
"A secret gift for you." Xenshi said to her with compassion.
"She doesn't deserve it! She's really poisoning all of you with her healing! Aha! Haahaha!" Xushu said madly floating inverted above Xenshi's head.
Feylashar's heart jumped and she took Xushu's words in stride instead focusing on Xenshi's.
"Thank you." she responded.
"Uhhh, I don't mean to be imposing but we really should get going don't you think?" Nelony looked at the group as if to press the matter.
"I agree though we'll have our showdown some other time, Eclipse girl." Shaela said still a bit hurt that she'd been felled by Monique.
"Anytime, anywhere." Monique said confidently.
"We're better positioned in the container that we're in to conduct the kind of scrying we need to get at their communications." Mila said referring to her illusory painting in the container which allowed them to sleep in luxury while maintaining their cover.
"Nelony and I will keep an eye on the bridge of the ship. When they make their communications we'll let you know." Yirfir said to them.
"I've got someone watching for any communications as well. I'll be making contact with her as soon as we get back to the ship. Our plan was to bust out of the containers when they made their rendezvous point and take the guards out one at a time by stealth, keeping the captives in the containers while we did. Once we'd taken out their guard detail, we'd secure the cargo hold where the captives would remain while we swept the ship." Heylyn explained the plan her and Monique had worked out.
"That's basically our plan as well, however we've got information that they have backup. I don't know who or how and that the backup is enough for even a force like ours to be worried about." Yirfir stepped forward explaining the conundrum.
"Hurry up and wait was our plan. Wait and see what happened at their communications point and adapt as necessary while protecting all of the captives. First priority." Jasmer added.
"While you're protecting the captives my shadow cat is going to make dessert out of the traffickers." Shaela said sharply.
"Disabling them is alright but killing them and certainly eating them is not. We need them alive to stand trial for their crimes before a court of law." Jeong Soon reminded Shaela.
"Then so shall it be done. Let's get moving. We've got to procure freedom for some captives and take away the freedom from some traffickers." Jasmer urged the group.
Athandra and Thara began the portal summoning spell and before long a series of holes appeared in the fabric of space within the assembly hall.
"Be successful and be safe. You take the Sanctum with you." Lady soon said the team filed into the portals leading back to the ship from whence they came.
They each stepped in one at a time as the bubbling portal sucked them in whisking them across time and space.
"Is this going to hurt?" Monique asked.
"No. Not at all. Actually it feels great. I mean that. Really." Shaela said to Monique keeping her lie well concealed.
Monique stepped into the portal oblivious to the pain she was about to experience.
"You were lying to her, weren't you?" Heylyn asked Shaela.
"Absolutely. Sorry honey but those are the breaks." Shaela said, still a bit sore at Monique for messing up her summoning spell.
"I guess I should be greatful I haven't eaten..." Heylyn said as she stepped into the portal.
Barris watched as Shaela got close to the portal and as she did, he pointed urgently.
"Egad! What's that!" gesturing to a point across from the portal.
Shaela bought his ruse and looked just long enough for Barris to push her into the portal screaming.
Barris was the last to step into the portal. As he did, he braced himself for the experience which was reminiscent of being turned inside out several times while speeding both inwards and outwards from your body. As he stepped out of the portal despite his throbbing head he was surprised to see Mila, Shaela and the rest of the captives with their hands up.
"Alright, alright. It was me. It was all my plan... I ratted you all out..." Barris said putting his hands up in the air as he felt the barrel of the assault rifle in his back.
The man with the monocle had returned and was walking around the container eyeing everyone like the cat who swallowed the canary.
"It seems we have a few... secrets going on in here shall we say? The kind of secrets that might make our little operation a bit more... efficient? I'd say its time that we had a chat, wouldn't you?" he addressed them looking piercingly to Barris.
"About what? Oh... You mean these... Oh they're just... things. Floaty glowy things... Haven't you ever had a lava lamp? Hippy beads maybe?" Barris said trying to cover up the portals which slowly faded.
"SILENCE! I think you know more than you're letting on! Tell me or they..." the monocled man said losing his temper.
"Alright, alright. It was all my plan and doing. I'll tell you everything. Just please... not in my face. Or tush." Barris said attempting to protect Mila and Shaela.
"You know what? I believe you! Let's go have a talk..." the monocled man said as the butt of the assault rifle rendered Barris unconscious.
To be continued... and far from the end...
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