Book 8 - Conquest for the Truth - Chapter 22 - Calm Before the Storm

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httyyd
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Joined: 10/12/2013

This chapter required a lot of homework on my part to get a lot of things straight as this is a summary of the story so far.  Hopefully answering a lot of questions you might have while leaving a few left and some new ones you might be thinking of.

 

With Chapter 23 coming, it will signify the start of the 3rd act of my story.  So, we are nearing the end, yet still have 10 chapters or more to go.

 

This book has been so fun to write yet has been the most challenging one yet.  But, that is what makes it fun too.  Also, having you guys read it and hear back from you here or on Discord is a lot of fun to.  Not to mention watching your reactions through the story thus far and knowing stuff that you don't because I'm the writer.

 

Hope you all have enjoyed reading this book as much as I have enjoyed writing it for you guys.

 

Hope you all enjoy the new chapter... It's a long one!

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Rest in Peace NarixuZen.  2004-2017

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Book 10 - The Shattered Axe

Chapter 17 - Back on Track

 

The Jarl Mollerson Mystery Series

All Chapter Links
 

 

Destiny in the Dark

Chapter 3 - Friends and Enemies

 

Proud Leader and fellow member of:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are links to the chapters of my fan-fic series.  The books go in chronological order.

 

The Clue of the Missing Socks.

Chapters 1 and 2                         Chapter 3                                       Chapter 4

Chapter 5                                      Chapter 6                                        Chapter 7

Chapters 8 and 9                        Chapter 10                                     Chapter 11

Chapters 12 and 13                     Chapters 14, 15, and 16             Chapter 17

Chapter 18                                    Chapter 19                                      Chapter 20

Chapter 21 and 22                      Chapter 23                                     Chapter 24 and 25

Chapter 26 - There is a hidden surprise.  Can you find it?

Chapter 27                                   Chapter 28, Part 1                         Chapter 28, Part 2

Chapter 29                                   Chapter 30                                       Chapter 31

Chapter 32                                   Chapter 33                                       Chapter 34

Chapter 35                                   Chapter 36                                       Chapter 37

Chapter 38                                   Chapter 39                                       Chapter 40

Chapter 41                                   Chapter 42                                       Chapter 43

Chapter 44                                   Chapter 45, Parts 1 and 2

 

The Mysterious Frozen Fire

Chapter 1         Chapter 2         Chapter 3         Chapter 4         Chapter 5         Chapter 6

Chapter 7         Chapter 8         Chapter 9         Chapter 10       Chapter 11       Chapter 12

Chapter 13       Chapter 14       Chapter 15        Chapter 16       Chapter 17       Chapter 18  

Chapter 19       Chapter 20      Chapter 21        Chapter 22, Part 1       Chapter 22, Part 2 

Chapter 22, Part 3

Epilogue/Preview for my Third Story!

 

Thoughts of Guilt

Chapters 1 and 2          Chapters 3 and 4          Chapter 5          Chapter 6          Chapter 7

Chapter 8          Chapter 9          Chapter 10          Chapter 11          Chapter 12, Part 1

Chapter 12, Part 2          Chapter 13         Chapter 14         Chapter 15         Chapter 16

Chapter 17 and 18         Chapter 19         Chapter 20         Chapter 21         Chapter 22

Chapter 23         Chapter 24         Chapter 25         Chapter 26         Chapter 27

Chapter 28         Chapter 29         Chapter 30         Chapter 31         Chapter 32

Chapter 33         Chapter 34         Chapter 35         Chapter 36 and 37

Chapter 38, Part 1         Chapter 39, Part 2         Chapter 40, Part 3         Chapter 41

Chapter 42, Parts 1 and 2         Chapter 43         Chapter 44

Chapter 45, Part 1         Chapter 45, Part 2

 

On the Edge of Mystery

Chapter 1          Chapter 2         Chapter 3        Chapters 4 & 5    Chapter 6, Parts 1 and 2   

Chapter 7          Chapter 8         Chapter 9            Chapter 10       Chapter 11        Chapter 12

Chapter 13        Chapter 14       Chapter 15          Chapter 16        Chapter 17       Chapter 18

Chapter 19        Chapter 20       Chapter 21          Chapter 22       Chapter 23      Chapter 24

Chapter 25        Chapter 26       Chapter 27         Chapter 28        Chapter 29 Parts 1 and 2 

Chapter 30       Chapter 31       Chapter 32 and 33                         Chapter 34 Parts 1 and 2 

Chapter 35 Part 1         Chapter 35 Part 2        Chapter 35 Part 3        Chapter 36

 

The Secret Symbol

Chapter 1    Chapter 2    Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5

Chapter 6    Chapter 7     Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapter 10

Chapter 11    Chapter 12    Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15

Chapter 16    Chapter 17    Chapter 18    Chapter 19    Chapter 20

Chapter 21   Chapter 22   Chapter 23   Chapter 24 and 25

Chapter 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29 and 30

Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34    Chapter 35

Chapter 36    Chapter 37    Chapter 38    Chapter 39

Chapter 40 and 41    Chapter 42    Chapter 43, 44, 45, and 46

 

The Legend of Shadow Mountain

Chapter 1    Chapter 2    Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5

Chapter 6    Chapter 7    Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapter 10

Chapter 11    Chapter 12    Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15

Chapter 16   Chapter 17    Chapter 18    Chapter 19    Chapter 20

Chapter 21    Chapter 22    Chapter 23    Chapter 24    Chapter 25

Chapter 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29    Chapter 30

Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34    Chapter 35

Chapter 36    Chapter 37    Chapter 38    Chapter 39    Chapter 40

Chapter 41    Chapter 42    Chapter 43    Chapter 44    Chapter 45 & 46

Chapter 47    Chapter 48    Chapter 49    Chapter 50    Chapter 51

 

Teaser "Trailer" for Book 8 - Conquest of the Truth

 

The Crimson Storm

Chapters 1 and 2     Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5    Chapter 6

Chapter 7    Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapters 10 and 11    Chapter 12

Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15    Chapter 16    Chapter 17    Chapter 18

Chapter 19    Chapter 20    Chapter 21    Chapter 22    Chapter 23

Chapter 24    Chapter 25 and 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29

Chapter 30    Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34

Chapter 35 and Epilogue

httyyd's picture
httyyd
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Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 10/12/2013
Drums R Round. Pi R Squared.

For this chapter, I am suggesting two mixes.  There will be a time in which I would like a change, but more for just the change in mood the chapter takes.  You may either listen to both or just the first one.  It's up to you.

 

Here is the first mix:

2 Hours of Epic Inspirational Music: QUEST - GRV MegaMix

 

Here is the second mix:

Dramatic Epic Classical Orchestra Music 10 Hours

(I will tell you when to switch in the story itself.  And, btw, this mix says it is 10 hours yet the songs only last about 30-40 minutes before it loops for 10 hours.)

 

Conquest for the Truth

 

Chapter 22

Calm Before the Storm

 

Jarl's Point of View

 

         What am I doing?

          “Besides only picking at my food for supper and not hungry for anything, besides letting a foe escape with the key to the mystery, besides repeatedly losing to Einar, besides letting my wife get captured, besides…  Besides watching my sister…”

          I do not even finish the thought.  I am sitting alone at a table in the Izarian Great Hall with a salmon sandwich, corn, an apple, and some milk.  Probably one of my favorite meals, I mean it has corn with it, but I am just not hungry.  Everyone else, my friends, my family, the Izarians, they are all in here having supper, but intentionally sat alone.  Everyone is giving me space, which I appreciate, though at the same time, it leaves me to my thoughts.  Even then, I cannot focus on anything.  Since I am near the door of the Great Hall, I can hear somethings inside and outside.  Still un able to focus on anything.

         A furious flurry of footsteps approach from outside and burst into the Hall.  It is an Izarian scout.

         “Dragon Rider inbound from the east.”

         He repeats it in an announcement for everyone.  Vikings start running out, then it dawns on me.

         From the east.

         His words are the first thing I have focused on since earlier today.  I run out into the brisk, winter air with a small crowd of vikings.  Just in a bit from the head of the top of the town plaza, right before one would come to the Great Hall, I see a Deadly Nadder.  But not just any Deadly Nadder.

         “Spiker?” I ask.

         His spines perk up a bit and he tilts his head to the side.

         “Spiker!” I declare.  Then I stop short from coming directly up to his head.  “But if you’re here, who flew you in.”

         Spiker sits down, raises his head, to reveal…  To reveal…  My Love standing there.

         Softly calling her name, “Annabeth.”

         “Jarl,” she answers as her eyes glisten in the moonlight.

         We immediately embrace each other in a hug.  I then caress her head in my hands as I kiss her lips.

         A moment later, I rest my forehead on hers, closing my eyes, I say, “Tell me it is really you.”

         Annabeth replies through some tears, “Yes, it’s really me.”

         Whispering to her, I tell her, “I thought I lost you.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry this-.”

         She stops me short, “Now, don’t start.  You were put in an impossible situation which no one would envy nor know what to do.  But as you always do, you always end up making the right decision.”

         Hug Annabeth again, but this time a bit tighter, though whispering in her ear, “I miss her.”

         Closing my eyes again, we stand there in each other’s arms.

         “You always tell me it will be okay,” Annabeth states.  “Now it is time for me to tell you it will be okay.”

         Annabeth stands back in front of me before stepping to the side.

         My eyes widen and mouth slightly opens.

         “T- Tell me my eyes don’t deceive me.”

         I see my Joy, my sister Asvord standing in front of me!

         Asvord declares, “Your eyes do not deceive you little brother.”

         I give a chuckle as a tear escapes my eye as I run to my sister, hugging her.  For the first time ever, I feel how much Asvord means to me.

         I am thinking it, but Asvord says as she buries her head in my shoulder and neck, crying, “You don’t know how much you miss something until it is nearly taken away from you.”

         Chuckling again, “Well, I thought you were taken away from me, so I got you beat on that.”

         Asvord leans back as she has her hands on my shoulders, “For you, I basically came back from the dead and you’ve only seen me for a few seconds and what do you greet me with?  Besides the initial love… Competition.  Good ‘ol sibling rivalry at its finest.  But I must say, you run to me after thinking I am dead yet you slowly go up to your wife.  I think you should have run to her instead of me.”

         I laugh, “You’ve been back for a couple minutes and you’re the same…  Asvord I love.”

         “Were you going to say, ‘old’?” Asvord folds her arms.

         “Maybe,” I snicker.  “But you said, ‘Good ‘ol sibling rivalry.’  So, you just named yourself old.”

         Asvord rolls her eyes.  She wants to say something, but can only begrudgingly sigh.

         She then changes the subject, “Now, let’s not make this any more embarrassing than it has already become, but have we got a story and information to tell you.”

         Rejuvenated, I counter her statement, “Oh, contrar, contrar me hermana.  Oh, do we have a story for you, especially you, Annabeth.”

         “Me?” she points to herself, not expecting what I said.

         Asvord one ups me, “Well, what I’ve got to say specifically, needs to be heard from all the leaders of the crew and the Izarian Resistance.  But first,” Asvord rubs her hands together.  “Besides getting out of the cold weather, could I get something to eat?  I’m starving.”

         My parents, who are right behind me the whole time, seeing everything, once they got their hugs and shows of love out of the way -in which Asvord did not put up a fight as she would normally- I told my parents to assemble the leaders for a meeting in the Great Hall.  They quickly went off as I took My Love and My Joy back into the Hall to get some food.

         Quickly seating them at my table I had been at, not more than a minute later was a plate of food set before the both of them.  They are sitting across from me, but as they started to eat, I remembered my own plate of food.  So, I began to eat.

         “Why are you eating?  We’re the hungry ones here,” Asvord protested.

         “Well, I’m sorry for mourning your death and the absence of my wife,” I smirk as I say sarcastically.  “Sorry if I cared too much for you.”

         “If you really cared for me, you’d have given me your apple already in exchange for my corn,” Asvord quips, but as she looks down with her head, her eyes shoot back up at me.

         Telling from that, Asvord is very appreciative I do care so deeply for her.  To say one thing but for it to be taken and understood the complete opposite way from how it was said, it is a sibling thing.  Knowing the thoughts of your sibling closely rivals the connection between a husband a wife.  But at least with you sibling you can say what is on your mind and you will not be sleeping outside with the dragons.  Worst case scenario, your sibling just retorts back at you.

         Annabeth speaks up after swallowing a mouthful of a fried Brown Trout sandwich, “Girls, girls, you’re both very pretty.  Can I just eat in peace please?”

         “Oh, ouch,” Asvord grimaces then looks back to kitchen.  “Waiter.  Waiter?”  No one is coming, but if they were, Asvord points to me.  “Could we get some ice for that burn?  Oh, don’t bother, he will probably be sleeping out in the snow anyway.  He can cool of then.”

         Remember what I said about only having to worry about only a sibling comeback… I stand corrected, though I am sitting down.

         I say under my breath, “Women vikings.”

         Annabeth inquires, “What did you say?”

         “Insert snappy comeback.  I said, ‘Women vikings.’,” I respond.  “Hey waiter?  You won’t have to worry about that ice.  I think I will be sleeping out in the snow.”

         “Don’t worry,” Annabeth says.  “I’ll come outside with you.”

         “Yeah, for moral support,” Asvord clears her throat.  “I seem to be out of milk.  Waiter.  Waiter?”  Asvord then quips, “Guess they’re living up to the name… Waiter!”

         Elsa strolls up next to Annabeth with a towel over her left wrist and a pitcher in her right, giggling ready to talk to Asvord in across Annabeth, “I’m sorry for the wait.  We’re short handed tonight, so I had to come in early on my shift because I short in stature to.”

         Asvord nods her head, “That makes sense.  If you are short-handed, then you would have to be short legged too.  I would like some milk please.”

         “Oh, you don’t want this milk,” Elsa insures.

         “No, I’m pretty sure I want more milk.”

         “You sure?”

         “Sure, I’m sure,” Asvord adamantly speaks.

         “Alright, if you insist,” Elsa grins.  “You asked for it.”

         Elsa tips the pitcher over and throws the milk directly in Asvord’s face.

         “Hey,” Annabeth objects as some of the milk spilled on her and her hair.

         Elsa apologizes but what is more intriguing is the fact Asvord does not move.  She merely blinks her eyes with milk dripping off her face.

         I comment, “You asked for it.”

         “I know,” she briefly holds her arms up as Elsa gives her the towel to wipe the milk off.  “And I had to coax her to do it.”

         I quip, “You’re a really good coach.”

         Asvord’s face just drops and she stares at me, as a sister would, rhetorically answering, “Thanks.”

         “No problem,” I reply but Asvord only rolls her eyes, though has a slight smile.

         She has missed us.

>>>Change to the second mix<<<

         We finish up the meal about ten minutes later, as the two girls asked for seconds and ate it all.  When the meeting was about to start, Asvord jumped up is ready to tell what she knows as everyone else goes over to table close to the center of the octagon cavern.  I go around the table to Annabeth and offer my right arm.  She wraps her arms around it and lays her head on my shoulder.  Though be it for only a few moments before we walk over to the table, time and time again I am reminded that the little moments in between are the ones one wishes would be every moment.

         Annabeth stays next to me as we congregate at the table.  Those standing around a table, ten feet by five feet, are as follows:  To the right of Annabeth is Heather, Dagur, Lilah, Garth, Sif, Saga, Lyra, my parents, and then Asvord to my left.

         “Alright,” I declare.  “Tell us what you found out, Asvord.”

         “After being captured by Einar after the initial attack when we were all shot out of the sky, I remember being taken to a couple of camps which were being set up, but then taken to Einar’s Ship.  That part is a bit sketchy because that is when I was hypnotized by Einar.”

         I interject, “You were what?”

         “Yes, Einar hypnotized me,” Asvord affirmed.  “What I thought was merely a dream during the night was actually the last couple of days.  One cannot be hypnotized to do something that is against their morals or something they wouldn’t normally do, so Einar with the power of suggestion made me start doing things as if it was my idea, they were helping you, Jarl.”

         I still cannot believe Asvord is standing here, “But I saw Einar stab you.  How are you alive?”

         “Very convincing slight of hand and misdirection,” Asvord replies.  “Because you thought the plan to get me back was going to go a certain way, when Einar had something else completely in mind, it caught everyone off guard.  When you had to choose between me, your wife, or the people of Izar, that was the misdirection Einar was banking on.  Through the advisement of Vixxen, she told Einar which choice you would make:  The people of Izar.  Einar thought you would pick Annabeth for the obvious reason.  The choice to save the many did surprise him, but with anything he talks himself into thinking it was according to his plan and he totally saw it coming.  While some of it may be exaggerating, I think he is boasting to the point he actually did see it coming and playing as if his plans are not fool proof.”

         “When he made your choice ‘easier’ by ‘stabbing’ me, he had a clean knife to begin with, but when he ‘stabbed me’ I remember in my dream that he handed the clean knife to me while he slid out of his sleeve a knife with fresh meat blood on it.  With what you saw happen by me falling limp to the floor, anyone else in your position or merely looking on would have jumped to the obvious conclusion.  All the visual evidence justified what just happened, but the actual evidence of there being no pool of blood as I lie there was the key part.  He mocked Annabeth for falling for it, though neither her nor you were in a position to check the body for sure if I was alive or not.”

         Heather asks, “But how did you become un-hypnotized?”

         “Thank Annabeth for that,” Asvord states.

         Annabeth picks up where Asvord left off, “After thinking Asvord was dead as we sailed away and… And I failed Jarl and my friends, Asvord stood up.  If you think you were shocked when you saw Asvord a little bit ago, just think what I felt when Asvord supposedly just died.  After that, Asvord just had the blankest look I have ever seen.  Asvord was looking at things as if they didn’t even exist and could see straight through them.  Because Asvord fulfilled what Einar wanted her to do, she had no other direction after falling to the deck.  She was still hypnotized, so her body was waiting for the next suggestion or to come out of the state.  He had no intention of doing so and I hate to think about what he would do later, probably actually killing her.  But because I was there and knew he had to keep me alive, he gave both of us over to Vixxen who took us down below in the ship to a workshop.  I was tied to a chair but Asvord had only her hands tied behind her back and merely was sat down on a bench.”

         “I was quiet for a long time while Vixxen worked on something,” Annabeth went on.  “Once Vixxen was done with her experiments, she asked me if I was going to stay quiet or say something.  I originally had nothing to say to her because I was just waiting for her to leave the room.  Then I asked her something along the lines of, ‘Why are you doing this?’ and ‘What made you this way?’  I clarified I wanted a more specific answer than what she just tells everyone.  Let’s just say her definition of helping someone or a group of people is very different than mine.  Then I asked what she was going to do after this was all over.  When I mentioned her working with and if they win, letting her sworn enemy from her time of being an Izarian Sentinel walk away with the power within Izar, she got visually angry.  But, remained quiet.  Then I brought up her perfect hit record and how she knows what’s best for herself, correcting myself to say ‘…what’s best for others,’ she proceeded to backhand me across the face.  Egging her on, I asked if she was proud of herself for that.  Vixxen replied I knew nothing about her and what she had been through.  Sarcastically, I agree about how she’s had a tough time betraying her home before I quoted a verse from the book I am reading, ‘It is better to have a little with righteousness than to have great revenues with injustice.’  Vixxen had no answer, so I pressed on.  ‘Regardless of what is at the end of this mystery,’ I said this to her.  ‘Is it truly worth it?  After all of this, what then?’  Vixxen said she will double cross Einar and not let any harm come to Izar, but my comments were too much for her.  So, she was fed up and finally left.”

         “When I knew she was for sure gone, I used my hidden blade to slice right through the rope.  The hidden blade is something we all rarely use.  But when a situation such as this comes up, I am glad I have it.  I then went directly to Asvord, cut her ropes, and then observed what state she was in.  By using my locket you gave me, Jarl, I used hypnosis to tap into her state and ask what was going on.  She thought she was helping Jarl by doing all of this.  By faking her death, Asvord was ‘helping’ Jarl have less to worry about.  You can’t have someone hypnotized and have them do something against their morals or something they wouldn’t normally do.  By making Asvord think it was her idea, Einar was actually getting her to do what he wanted her to do.  Though it sounds like as if Einar didn’t even think of hypnosis had it not been for Vixxen.”

         I add, “Figures.”  I then question my wife, slowly saying, “How long have you known hypnosis?”

         Responding, Annabeth informs, “Since I started working with Sigvald so I could combat being hypnotized after nearly killing you…  Again.  And to answer the question you are probably thinking, I never thought it was important enough to say anything about it.  It was just something extra I learned from your father while I was learning about the process of hypnotism.”

         I wonder out loud, “Have you ever hypnotized me before and I didn’t even know it?”  I then chuckle, thinking to myself, “It would be nice if all this was a dream, then I could wake up from it.  Though if all to this moment was a dream, then waking up I’d only realize it still happened.  Good try, I guess.”

         She answers my question, “Not by me.  I’ve wanted to do it on a few occasions, believe me.”  Annabeth tries to hide a smile, but it subtly shows.  “But if you were to ever be hypnotized, two things would most likely happen:  You would either fall right to sleep, not just have your eyes closed, therefore voiding the hypnosis.  Or, once you have your eyes closed, then you’d never wake up.  Either way, you’re a hopeless subject for hypnosis.”

         Asvord quips, “If there is a slim chance they are able to suggest him to do something, he’d never listen.  If they don’t tell him when to get it done, he will get it done in his time which could be never.  Even then he would be too stubborn to just accept the task, he would keep asking, ‘Why?’ so many times the ones trying to hypnotize him would just give up.”

         A slight silence comes before Heather breaks it, remarking, “It is great to have you both back… Regardless of the casualty we see standing before us.”

         Everyone laughs.

         Elsa chuckles as she says, “Three burns in a row.  One more and we can roast marshmallows.”

         I shake my head, “While they were burns, I think they were all compliments saying I couldn’t be hypnotized.”

         Annabeth looks at me, “You wanna test that now?”

         “No, as it would fail.  The only thing which could begin to hypnotize me,” I pause.  “Is you.”

         As I bring her hand up to kiss it, she ever so slightly blushes and smiles, yet still retorts, “Now I can do it two ways.”

         “I’m starting to get confused at who can hypnotize who,” Asvord at my left then abruptly says, “Now to get back to the juicy part of the story, after Annabeth gets me back to being myself, we part ways to cover more ground.  I go after Spiker and to see if I can find out anything else and Annabeth goes after to something I remembered from Einar saying something in front of me.  A friend of his was meeting him soon and Annabeth and I thought we could get some nice insight on Einar.”

         “Why are you telling this part?  You weren’t there,” Annabeth interrupts.

         “Oh, you were ready?” Asvord states.  “Please, be my guest and continue.”

         Annabeth rolls her eyes, “Anyway.  I got there first and found a hiding spot behind some crates and things on the bow ship.  Shortly thereafter, an incoming craft of some kind being carried by four creepy looking dragons lowered down to let a very tall older man off.  Einar came to greet him and the two evil dudes exchanged notes from class.  This new guy’s name is Grimmel the Grisly, but the Grisly part must be fore something else because the only hair was the gray hair on his long, long face.  Like, really long face.  What’s more disgusting is Grimmel is just as evil as Einar.  Einar had Grimmel go after some of Izar’s Night Furies and the Dragon Carrier Tholme is leading.  Grimmel says he took out all the Night Furies but the Bewilderbeast got away.”

         At the mention of that, Garth shifted and perked up a bit, Annabeth acknowledged what Garth is probably thinking, “This means that Kaya is alive, but we don’t know where.”

         Lyra reminded, “The Alpha is a very particular creature.  They go where they want, when they want, and do what they want.  Izar’s Bewilderbeast and Kaya will get here when they are good and ready.”

         “Well,” Annabeth comments.  “They better get here soon because Einar has his own Bewilderbeast and is planning on bring it back with him to Izar.  I’ll get to that in a second because that isn’t the worst thing.”

         Dagur irritatingly asked, “There’s more?  Who does Einar think he is?”

         “A guy on a mission or revenge,” Annabeth reveals.  “Grimmel had fun mentioning it to Einar because Einar had only told his top generals about his real reason for attacking Izar in the first place.  I was pondering whether I should tell you all this or not, but we hide no secrets from you so we can come together.  Einar contends that a group of dragons -From Izar- came to his home island, wiping everyone out, and burning the island to the ground.  He and the Sun Warriors were a tribe that kept to themselves, but then after the attack, devoted their lives to destroying all dragons.  When they somehow found out the dragons were supposedly from Izar, the Sun Warriors finally had something to blame and have been gunning for the Isles of Izar of since.”

         Annabeth pauses for a moment.  In this moment, I look at the Izarian reactions to this.  Only Lyra, Saga, Sif, and Garth have minute reactions to this.  From what I found out at the Sentinel archives I have more to ask about them on this later.

         Annabeth goes on, “Grimmel asked about Vixxen which Einar totally disregards as anybody but someone to help him for now.  His words were, ‘Vixxen is a fool to think she can save her people by helping me.’  Einar said there is much more here than Vixxen or any of us realize.  There’s The Legend of Shadow Mountain, the Secret of Shadows, and The Prophecy.  But there is so much more.  This is when Vixxen caught me snooping on the Einar’s conversation.  Knowing I was caught, I took a page out of ‘Jarl’s Book of Figuring Out What to Do.’”

         I chuckle, “And what is that?”

         “Have a ‘normal’ conversation with the immediate vikings to use it as a distraction to figure out which way you will be running,” Annabeth answers.  “It was going pretty good as I was backing over to the door to move into the ship.  That was until Grimmel drew his crossbow and fired.  The arrow was only inches from my head, hitting the large supporting doorpost.  I’m pretty sure he meant to miss, but I would have like it a bit further away.  I then ran back through the ship.  I fully expect Vixxen to jump down from the top deck above me and chase me through the cargo hold.  She didn’t.  So, when I got back to the workshop, right before entering the hallway, I slid legs first into the shop.  Vixxen was just to the right, ready to clothesline me I came in.  We exchanged pleasantries before I tactically retreated some more.  It took a good few moments before the crew of the ship realize what was happening.  When two finally did as I was trying to get to the top deck, I took care of them only to be met with the rest of the crew and Vixxen when I emerged from the lower deck.  That’s when Asvord, right on cue, created a distraction for the rest of the crew by taking out any weapon installments on the ship.  She had with her a small band of dragons which she had freed and let loose tearing apart the ship.  It left me one-on-one with Vixxen.”

         “I knew I had to stall for time, so I led Vixxen on with the fight, sword versus axe staff, and asked her a few things.  When I told her about what Einar is planning, she knows.  She overhead Einar’s conversation.  From what point, I don’t know, but she says she knows what he is planning.  Furthermore, she says she won’t let Einar take the power or wipe out Izar.  Vixxen will double cross Einar, taking both for herself.”

         “Of course,” I interjected.

         “When I figured it was coming to a head, I switched to my axe mode to be more direct.  A few moves later, I got Vixxen to the ground,” Annabeth describes how she did so.  “While I let her get up, Vixxen mentioned, ‘You aren’t willing to throw the finishing blow.’  Somehow between the point of me switching to axe mode and me kicking her in the face, she grabbed one of my Cracker Bombs and threw it at my face!  I was just able to shield my face with my bracers, but I merely shielded it from the broken pieces of the shell.  It still crackled right in my face, making me stumble back.  This gave Vixxen enough time to grab me by the throat, lifting me off the ground.”

         Though Annabeth is retelling what already happened, the anger inside of me is growing inside of me with my hatred of Vixxen.

         “While I was gasping for air, I tried to speak.  Mocking me, she bent her elbow and said she couldn’t hear me.  Then I told her she talked too much and used my legs to wrap around her neck and fling her to the ground, keeping a hold of her.  I lay there for a moment to get some air in me, but Asvord then had Spiker shoot a blast into the side of the ship nearby.  Though, she could have done that a little earlier,” Annabeth subtly rubs her throat.

         Asvord defends herself, “I kind of had a whole ship after me, firing everything they had left at me.  I was on my way, but I knew you had it handled.”

         “Yeah, yeah,” Annabeth finishes up.  “As she flies over, Asvord throws down a Smoke Bomb creating a screen of cover.  Asvord loops up and back around, picking me up.  And we were gone quicker than someone who can puke Yaknog.”

         I shake my head at the comparison, “I’m just glad you got out of there.”

         “Who said we were done talking?” Asvord questions.

         Surprised, I exclaim, “There’s still more?”

         Asvord picks up, “Just a few more things.  Nothing too important.  Just for the fact that the ‘keys to the gate’ right before the final room housing the power of Izar is the herbs Valkarik got from her side quest with Theodor and The Fifth Fleet.  Annabeth says we have these herbs.  From what I heard Einar talking about, these herbs are both natural and grown from a formula.  They have some parchments that talk about the whole story.  Einar went into a little be of the lore behind the herbs.  From what I can gather, this would make a great play one day with vikings and dragons and multiple people, even in the same family, fighting against each other for the power over each other.  And if they can’t get the power, they’d just as surely kill to get it.  Not that I would like that to actually happen, but it sure would create an intriguing drama show one day.  The formula and the discovery of the herbs was made by a guy named Deondre, long time ago.”

         Aiyana, in the surrounding crowd, echoed, “Deondre?”

         Asvord gradually confirms, “Yes.  Do you know they guy?”

         “This may come as a shock to you all,” Aiyana states.  “But Deondre Thorgard is my great grandfather.”

         Asvord smirks at me, “The connections to literally everything just keeps coming.”

         “I know right,” I reply then make a request to Aiyana.  “If you could review your family history.  There might be some clues that could help us.”

         Asvord makes a comment back on the subject, “But it is a good thing we have those herbs.”

         “If I may interject here,” I scratch the back of my neck.  “We don’t have the herbs anymore.  Remember Skygge?  Well, he somehow got hold of Theo’s Grim Gnasher and took Theo and the Herbs and left without knowing which direction he took.  We all knew where he was going, but at the time we didn’t know y’all’s situation that we had to stay true to what Einar said would happen if we came his direction.”

         “Well…,” Asvord sighs but taking it in stride.  “That’s a setback, but there is still a lot we can do in the meantime.”

         I ask, “Like what?”

         Asvord says, “Eh, like figuring out what this fabric is that Vixxen was working on… Why in the world I knew what experiments to do the moment I was un-hypnotized…  Preparing for Einar to attack in two groups, with his Bewilderbeast in tow… Stuff like that.”

         Dropping all that on us, Asvord then explains a bit more about what Vixxen was working on in her workshop and Einar having two groups led by him and Vixxen.  Einar’s group would have the Bewilderbeast and Vixxen’s group would be the distraction while Einar goes in to take the power out of Izar.  She says Einar will take the land by any means necessary to get what he wants.  I mean, seeing how he is going to wipe out the land anyway, what is it to him he just gets a head start?

         Annabeth retorts, “With all that we have said, we haven’t even gotten to what you found out while we were gone.”

         Being a bit more concise to bring this meeting to the point in which I called it, to see what we will do, I go over what we found out in the Sentinel archives.

         I begin, “You know how your father, Annabeth, had a connection with The Mystery of Shadow Mountain?”  She nods her head, though her look is that of not expecting to hear about her father.  “Turns out his role ran much deeper than that.  His role comparatively was still small, but it was key.  He helped devise the plans for the puzzles to hide the pieces on each of the islands of Izar.  But the chiefs of Izar took care of the actual assembly of the puzzles and building of them.  Osvald personally knew where the rest of the railgun is at and how to use it properly.  Yet he never mentioned the ‘where’ and the ‘how,’ said there would be those coming after him which would know both.  However, he did give one clue in response to The Prophecy, ‘At the proper time, all will come to pass, all will be made clear.  The Heart of a storm will rise with the winds of the sky and the depths of the ocean will return to its origin.  The power that waits to beheld, can punish, corrupt, or be the savior to a land that was once lost.  A land which is home to healing, to wisdom, to strength, to immortality.  Only the storm will survive.  A storm is coming.  A storm is here.’  His quote, ‘When that storm comes in, it will be like a blinding and powerful sand storm the likes even the world’s biggest deserts could not even compete with.’  And the picture he drew with the notes is a Sand Wraith.”

         Asvord had no reaction, but Annabeth had been looking down.  At the mention of a Sand Wraith, Annabeth’s head jolted up and looked at me.  We both knew what the other is thinking.

         “He went on to say that the power which lies within Izar does have a weakness, but Osvald stated plainly he truly did not know what it is.  He only stated it had something to do with the storm that is supposed to come in as The Prophecy states.  Other comments about The Storm, Osvald was saying he thought it would not be a literal or physical storm, but a figurative storm.  He was thinking The Storm would be a person, persons, a group of people, or a thing, other than an actual storm.”

         “Wow,” Annabeth is left a bit speechless.  “I- I’m…  I’m not sure what to say to that.”

         Heather put an arm around her, giving Annabeth a quick hug, “When we thought we knew all there was to know about our father, he still finds ways to amaze us, doesn’t he?”

         “He sure does,” Annabeth agrees.

         “That’s not all,” I call out, nudging Asvord.  “I can do it too.  We got some additional information on Vixxen.  Not only was she a Sentinel, but she was one of Izar’s top spies, yet was not trained through the normal channels.  Vixxen would infiltrate the enemy, win them over, get into a key role or position of power, and then be able to take out the enemy from the inside out without having to let the enemy sail into Izarian waters or set one foot on Izarian shores.  Only the Chief Elder, one Bera Gudlaud, Chief Elder of the Sentinel Protectors and a select few others only totaling four, including Bera and Vixxen’s mother.  These four kept all this information from the chiefs of the Izarian Islands.  They reasoned that if Einar came back or another type of evil came up, the Sentinel Protectors would have to take drastic measures if the odds and situation was too much to handle for the rest of the chiefs.  The Protectors needed a way to usurp the proper chain to simply get the job done.  Because of this, if news got out of Vixxen helping an enemy or the enemy, Einar Verodfellar, the chiefs would obviously deny the fact Vixxen was doing it intentionally to help the vikings of Izar.  The Sentinel Protectors would deny Vixxen working for them to protect Vixxen’s cover in case she was in too deep or not done yet.  Once the enemy was defeated, then the Sentinels would step in to sort things out between Vixxen and the rest.  But what I am thinking now is did Vixxen play the traitor for Izar for so long, she started to believe it?  Did she become one for real this time?”

         Annabeth asks, “Knowing before this that Vixxen was good at one point and with this new information, she volunteered to put herself in compromising positions for the sake and good of all Izar, you’re not saying that Vixxen is justified for all that she is done and you want to help her?”

         I take a deep breath, “I don’t know.  My wish has always been with whoever I meet and I find to be a foe that there still be good in them somewhere.  But is there truly a line that if passed makes someone too far gone no matter how much good was in them or whatever you do?  Will they just never come back?”

         I scoop up Annabeth’s hand, glancing at her, “There have been times in my life where there have been people in my life that others said were too far gone.  But in my desire to do what is right, I am stubborn for not giving up hope.  My father came back…  Annabeth came back -more than once- even though I know there were other circumstances involved in those times…  Family and friends who were on the brink of death, I did not let it happen and, with help, figured out a way to heal them in more ways than one…  Then even a dragon…  My dragon… he came back to me.  All I can say about Vixxen is I have not given up hope.  There isn’t much left in me to keep hoping, but the moment I stop, the very next moment could have been the opportunity to bring them back.  If I give up in the little things about someone I could careless about, I fear I would give up in the big things when those dear to my heart depend on me to believe in them.  The easiest way for that not to happen is to do right to everyone and to hope your example will rub off somehow.”

         “My first thoughts after hearing all of this new information,” I bring the meeting to its point.  “I can’t help but think that everyone’s backstory is coming into play.  Everything we have done in out past was all for a reason.  Maybe this truly is our destiny to come here, be in this moment, and be what Izar needs us to be.”

         Annabeth softly wonders, “When we all thought we were setting out on our own path, simply solving mysteries and meeting new vikings, both friend and foe, that all of this happened to us to be here?  Could there actually be any weight to The Prophecy besides a clue to The Legend of Shadow Mountain?”

         I shrug my shoulders, “While I believe the time for real prophecies has already come to an end, the more things develop in this mystery the more I firmly believe this:  The Prophecy was not foretelling the future as much as it was just telling what will inevitably happen.  The only thing that may have been different is the people who would be in this moment.  But with such great power awaiting whoever finds it, great power will draw in both good and evil.  One side wants to protect it or destroy it while the other side wants to use it for their own will to do what they please.”

         My father puts forth, “All this new information is very impressive and answers a lot of questions, but some still remain.  The most important one is… Where do we go from here?”

         With that, everyone looked to me.  These last several days, I had not really known what to do.  Now with the end getting clearer, our course of action is getting more concrete as we go.

         “You have that map, Sif?” I ask.

         Sif nods and spreads out, on the table, a large map of the Isles of Izar.

         I call on Asvord, “Where is Einar going to attack from?”

         Asvord points out, “Einar will attack from the east with the aim being the fortress he built on the eastern side of Izar.  Vixxen will attack from the south, the same place where the initial attack was done.”

         “When will they come?”

         She answers, “A day, maybe two.  I don’t remember him ever saying when.  I know it is very soon.”

         “So, we need to be ready whenever it will happen,” I decide.  “Father, Mother, Dagur, Valkarik, and Marth.  Coordinate all the fleets with Sif’s ground troops to be ready to protect Izar and Iyer.  Sif and Lilah’s advisement on where to best place ships in a defensive formation will be the best place to start.  I want my family to protect Iyer.  Then that leaves Valkarik and The Fifth Fleet to protect Izar.  Since Izar has the largest fleet here to begin with, I want your ships to support both points of interest securing any flanks and counter attacks.  By what Asvord and Annabeth have described and what they saw, he has just as many ships as we do.  Sif, I would also like you to coordinate with your citizens of each island to pack up and seek safety in the strongest haven you have in the islands.  Making sure they are safe will help everyone be able to focus on the battle ahead.”

         Lyra questions, “What about the dragons?”

         “Thank you for volunteering,” I smile.  “No, I was going to ask you and Saga if you both could organize the dragons both as an aerial assault against the ships as well as a last line of defense on Izar.”  Lyra nods, as well as Saga.  “Anyone wanting to join them with their own dragons may.”

         Cazi punches her fist into her other hand, “Awesome.”

         “Not so fast,” I counter.  “I need you elsewhere.”

         A bit disappointed, Cazi asks, “Where?”

         I answer, “We need to find the railgun that Garth and Osvald have talked about.  The railgun can only fire if it has Skrills powering it.  Since you are the Skrill Conqueror, I thought it only appropriate you lead the group which will be in charge of firing the thing.”

         Cazi’s eyes brightened up, “Now, you’re talking.”  I look at here and she responds with waving her hand at me, “I know, I know.  I need to help you unlock something in the whatever, but do I get to provide covering fire for both points of interest.”

         I chuckle and shake my head, “Yes.  But not until it is needed because we don’t want to give up your position until you are spotted or found out.  Because this railgun could be the difference maker in a lot of ways, but we need it for final room.”

         Saga wonders, “What are you planning on doing with this power that awaits in the heart of this island?”

         I plainly state, “I don’t know.  For one, I haven’t thought that far ahead.  There are a few things I could do, but I have decided yet.  I’ll think of something.”  Moving on, “We also need to organize all the other clues from the other islands because they are needed to unlock the door to the heart of the island, I am sure of it.  I would like to know more about the fabric that the girls brought back.  Garth?  Could you study it and see what you can do with it?”

         Garth agrees and Asvord tells him she will inform him of the experiments she did on the fabric and anything else she can think of about the fabric to help Garth figure out what the importance of the fabric is.

         Heather inquiries, “How will we get back the herbs?”

         I assume, “He will probably have them well guarded if not be personally responsible for them at all times.”

         Pausing to think of something, Annabeth requests, “Let me get them.”

         Wanting to object, Annabeth jumps in again, “I know what you will say, but we need those herbs.  Once the attack starts and we spot Einar, I will infiltrate his ship and get the herbs.”

         Taking a moment, I make my decision, “Alright.  You may go…  But you’re taking someone with you.”

         “I’ll go with her,” Heather puts her hand on Annabeth’s shoulder.  “It will just be like old times…  Just with more pressure, not that someone is counting on us or anything.”

         Annabeth smiles as Heather offers her hand.  Annabeth responds with the Berserkian handshake of grabbing the other’s forearm, though they both hug.  Depending on the Berserkian, a hug may not be the best course of action, so the handshake suffices to seal the deal.

         “We all knew this war was bigger than all of us.  We knew what we were signing up for,” I then sigh.  “I’m no war general nor do I know the best strategy for placing troops and ships.  I’m simply good at solving mysteries.”  Pointing to the map with my finger on the table, “But what I do know is this.  If this is our destiny, then we are going to do it right.  Our numbers are smaller, less equipped, and only known each other for a small period of time…  Yet, that has never stopped my crew.  Some of them I have only known for a couple of years, some I have known my whole life.  We all hail from different backgrounds, tribes, and even far away lands.  There is one thing that brings us together.  Doing the right thing, not letting innocence suffer for the sake of evil, viking and dragon alike.  Through solving mysteries, we uncover the truth.  And by golly, we will finish this conquest to find the truth and end this war once and for all.”

         “You all may be dismissed and use the time we have the best way you know how to get what you are tasked with done, however,” I state firmly.  “We all should get some sleep.  Sure, we could get some things done, but if we are not alert for anything to happen tomorrow or the next day, we cannot have very many mistakes.  Not saying we should go flawless; nothing usually ever goes according to plan.  But if in our endeavors we strive for perfection to complete our tasks, our preparation will pay off, I’m sure.”

         “I want Annabeth, Heather, Cazi, Hyrith, and Aiyana to meet with me again in the morning right here,” I state.  “We will go after finding the railgun.  The rest of my crew, I want you all to first organize all the clues we have uncovered and take one set of notes that I will take with me into the heart of Izar.  We’ll figure out who will go with me later.  Otherwise, you all are dismissed.”