In the wake of the giga-beasts absorption, the world was covered in the grey quiet of the blowing winds for a long moment. In the sky over Darius and the other’s heads, Agent Riverstone glowed brighter than the sun as she strove to process the power she’d stolen.
“That shouldn’t be possible should it?” Darius asked. “No one could take in that much magic without exploding.”
“I don’t know,” Fari said. “Mel channeled an unreal amount of power when she was fending off the planetary weapons on Hellsreach.”
“And it almost killed her,” Darius said.
“It doesn’t look like Agent Riverstone is doing so well there herself,” Zyla said.
The light from the “second sun” was wobbling and thrashing violently as it tried to escape from the force that was pulling it inwards.
“Why would she do it at all though?” Darius asked. “The banishment spell had trapped the giga-beasts. She could have just sent them away.”
The thrashing cords of light grew still and ordered, lining up into rows and columns in a broad sheet as they were drawn towards the figure at their center.
“It’s the damage to the fate weave!” Fari said. “She’s trying to fix it!”
“There’s no way she can control that much magic though,” Zyla said. “And if the fate weave tries to support her, it’ll instantly invert when she loses control.”
“Riverstone’s not the one in control of the power,” Fari said. “She has the Dominator. The Jewel is controlling the magic for her. The question we need to answer is what are they going to do with it.”
“They can’t repair the damage to the fate weave from there,” Zyla said. “The giga-beasts tore a ragged hole in it and the threads that remain are too frail to work with.”
“Where could they go to replace or recreate what was destroyed then?” Fari asked.
“I’m not sure,” Zyla said. “There would have to be a central heart for the weave. A mystical forge that it was originally cast from. If that still exists, that would be the prime spot to effect a repair from, but it’s impossible for me to sense with all the Aetherial noise the fate weave throws off.”
“Would it not also be hidden, as we were hidden?” Alinaki, the spokeswoman for the Unseen, asked.
“Absolutely,” Zyla said. “Even moreso than a heart like Demon’s Isolation, it would be imperative that no one have access to the spell forge. An enemy working there could wreck terrible havoc on the world.”
In the sky above, the glowing sun faded back to the luminance of a bright star and then shot away followed by the other, dimmer stars that made up Agent Riverstone’s team.
“Want to bet she’s heading right for it?” Darius asked.
“We can’t track her,” Fari said. “They have teleporters waiting for as soon as they’re outside the interdiction zone.”
“Didn’t the giga-beasts destroy the teleport interdiction effect too?” Zyla asked.
“Yes, they did,” Kojo said, arriving a swirl of exotic lights. “Or at least most of it. Ebele wants to speak with you.”
“How many can you handle?” Darius asked, nodding towards the Unseen.
“We have a warp circle coming online,” Kojo said. “But we will need to be quick. The Queen’s forces are distracted for the moment, but that’s not going to last.
“Where are you proposing to take us?” Alinaki asked.
“To a secure area the Queen and her forces cannot access or discover,” Fari said.
“That sounds much like another prison,” Alinaki said. “Tell me, will we be free to leave should we wish?”
“Within the limits of being able to travel without attracting royal attention, yes, we will not hold you,” Kojo said.
“And how can we trust your word?” Alinaki asked.
“They helped us, and are in part responsible for you being free of the fate weave now,” Zyla said.
“Let me confer with my people then,” Alinaki said and walked over to where the other Unseen had gathered.
“Ebele wants you all moved out immediately,” Kojo said. “There are additional Royal Forces inbound already.”
“Why aren’t they teleporting in?” Zyla asked.
“There are lingering traces of the interdiction spell,” Kojo said. “Difficult to work through but not impossible. Their casters aren’t trained for that like I am though.”
“How long will it take their conventional forces to get here?” Darius asked.
“Minutes at most,” Kojo said. “And they’ll have us scanned already.”
“No,” Fari said. “Not with the shield I have in place.”
“I don’t think your shield is strong enough,” Kojo said. “We were able to find you without difficulty.”
“That’s because I wanted you to,” Fari said.
“How did you know we would be looking?” Kojo asked.
“One of many contingency plans,” Fari said.
Alinaki rejoined them and the other Unseen were with her.
“We do not know you, but we know the Queen,” she said. “If you can hide us from her, we will travel with you.”
“Good,” Kojo said. “Everyone join hands or hold on.”
The teleportation effect was slow and unpleasant, mystical eddies and whirlpools of power sought to tear them to pieces but in the end the entire group of people arrived in the enormous cavern that served as hidden base for Ebele’s rebels.
The moment the teleport effect completed, caster began scurrying around the base, closing off the wards and reinforcing the spells that would distract anyone from looking for them.
“What did you people do?” Ebele asked when she found Darius, Fari and Zyla.
“We freed the people from the city that had no one living in it and that no one could remember,” Fari said.
“You did what?”
“The forgotten city that you told us about? The one the Queen was keeping hidden?” Fari said. “It was more important than you realized. These people were living beneath it and were under an even stronger version of the spell that made you forget the city if you weren’t shielded.”
“What were those enormous monsters?” Ebele asked.
“Creature native to transwarp space,” Darius said. “They require a tremendous amount of anima to exist on this plane but that’s not really a problem here.”
“They destroyed the fate weave around Demons Isolation,” Fari said.
“That’s not possible,” Ebele said.
“It is for creatures of that scale,” Zyla said.
“How were they summoned in the first place? The fate weave should never have allowed that to occur!” Ebele said.
“It did not resist the summoning spell at all,” Alinaki said. “Before we were freed from its grasp, I felt the fate weave moving around the one who called the beasts, but it did not hinder or distract her.”
“Mel summoned them,” Fari said. “And then she was captured.”
“What happened to the beasts?” Ebele asked. “We lost our surveillance spells after the Royal Forces showed up.”
“They were absorbed,” Darius said. “So we have an minion of the Queen who now has an incalculable amount of power at her disposal.”
“Can she find us?” Ebele asked.
“No, she has more power but raw power was never enough to allow the Queen to locate you,” Fari said. “The fate weave won’t allow that.”
“I don’t understand? The weave is the Queen’s tool. It doesn’t offer us any protection at all,” Ebele said.
“I think Fari’s right,” Zyla said. “With what’s happened in the last few hours, I’m becoming convinced that the fate weave has developed more layers and depth than we can see.”
“Enough to give an agent of the Queen incalculable power,” Ebele said.
“And to constrain that agent so that there’s only one thing she can do with all that magic,” Fari said.
“I knew letting you go was a mistake,” Ebele said.
“But you’re going to let us go again,” Darius said. “And this time you’re going to come with us.”
“I will not risk my people on your insanity,” Ebele said.
“It’s too late to worry about that,” Darius said. “No one on this planet is going to survive the next couple of hours unless we make a miracle happen.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Ebele said.
“No, it’s the truth,” Zyla said. “The fate weave has always been unstable. You know this. You know how much energy is bound up in it too. Imagine what happens when that energy splits apart and there’s no spell to channel it towards beneficial ends?”
“That can’t happen though.”
“It’s happening already,” Zyla said. “The giga-beasts were only the tipping point. Slowly but surely the fate weave has been ripping itself apart for centuries. It grew weak enough a short while ago for Yael and I to catch wind of what was going on. I think that was a cry for help. Ever since then the tears have been growing larger.”
“How can you know that?” Ebele asked.
“I couldn’t before. The weave is too vast for me to get a clear vision of,” Zyla said. “But standing in the forgotten city, and meeting the people who lived there let me finally see its ragged edge.”
“You’re asking me to believe that in less than a day, in less than a few hours even, you’ve managed to undo a magical structure that has stood for centuries?” Ebele said. “I don’t buy it.”
“Then you should listen to my words,” Alinaki said. “My people have lived through those centuries, forgotten and Unseen, bound by the cords of fate, our lives leeched out to keep you and yours safe and happy. For the first time in since we came to this world, we are free.”
“So you say, but how can I know that you’re not in league with the Queen?” Ebele asked. “The last push she needs to bring down those who still oppose her?”
“We have had everything taken from us,” Alinaki said. “If you will not take my words, then I have nothing more to give you.”
“Wait! No, you do!” Fari said. “The ghosts! Look for the ghosts! They’re the Unseen dead who haven’t been able to move on because they were bound by the weave. They’ll recognize their living descendants and be drawn to them!”
“That’s not…” Ebele trailed off, her sentence forgotten as her eyes widened. “They’re all around you! They’re protecting you?”
“See I told you!” Fari said.
“Yes, but they don’t look happy.” Ebele said and backed away from Alinaki.
“You have given us refuge,” Alinaki said. “They will not harm you.”
“What about the ones who are spread out around the rest of the planet?” Darius asked.
“As their chains break away, they will not be so merciful,” Alinaki said.
“Their chains?” Ebele asked and focused on the area around Alinaki again. ‘The chains are gone!”
“Consumed by the giga-beasts” Fari said.
“You’ve been telling the truth,” Ebele said, her eyes still wide and her breathing shallow. “The world really is going end.”
“Unless we can pull off a miracle,” Darius said. “Or maybe two.”
“Two?” Ebele asked. “What do you think we need to do?”
“First we need to stop Agent Riverstone from repairing the fate weave,” Fari said.
“Then we need to cast a planet-wide exorcism and lay the ghosts of the Unseen to rest,” Darius said.
“The exorcism makes sense, even if it’s impossible, but why would we want to stop the fate weave from being repaired?” Ebele asked.
“Because repairing it to the state that it was in will only lead to the the weave falling apart in days rather the hours,” Fari said. “We need the fate weave gone if the Abyz is to survive.”
“I approve of that, my people approve of that and my ancestors do as well,” Alinaki said.
“My ancestors died because they approved of following that sort of idea,” Ebele said. “I’ve missed them so much, but maybe I understand them now, maybe some things are worth dying for.”
“No,” Darius said. “We’re not going out there to die. It might happen, but that’s not our goal. Our goal is to live, and for the whole planet to live with us. Fight for that.”
“You think like one of the Unseen,” Alinaki said. “We do not give up and we do not give in. We endure and we carry forward. There was no prophecy that spoke of this day, but for centuries we have awaited it and if we must work miracles to see tomorrow, then we shall make them happen!”