"Let's go back for now."
The two left the noise and the cheers, the dancing and singing, the jubilation of weary people finally able to embrace the comforts of their lives again. Seeing all these people in such a happy mood, it was unheard of in the Alliance towns and cities within Verden. He thought back to what Steel had told him several months ago, how in all his years of serving kings and leaders he had never seen such things as he did in Koridai, an empire that knew only the joys of thriving. If this town was only a sample of the power Chikara had held over the land she called her own, he could only imagine what the Arbiter's Grounds must have been like during the prime of her rule. Shadow raised a strong point. If Chikara had returned and if she was in any way the same person as she was when he last saw her, then she would have done something a little more drastic to the kingdom of Calatia. Unless Selena would be back . . . no . . . no their game is over. The time of their rule over the kingdom and empire has come to an end, their competition ended in a stalemate. Besides, the power of Lazu was sealed away in the battle of the Labyrinth. If Chikara had returned, she wouldn't be the goddess anymore.
The questions built up in Jordan's head, his skull feeling like it was expanding with stress. And the old words of old friends ringing in his head.
You have not been in the Empire in some time, have you? The people are happy, Jordan. There are no food shortages, little crime, and education and science flourish. If Chikara was gone, if a civil war broke out, the old scourges of famine, disease, ignorance would break out again. She is like no other ruler I have ever seen, Jordan.
* * *
Lucien did not speak to Egann after his condescending introduction. As an inquisitor, he was able to study people from how they acted. Egann's movements and responses were limited due to his current imprisonment, but the arch-inquisitor could tell that the man knew a considerable amount of information concerning the matters he intended to keep in the dark. He didn't have any solid evidence to his hunch but he didn't let that affect his judgement on the matter. Despite this, he decided to throw salt onto the wounds.
"Do you know how I did it, Gauvin?" He asked softly. Egann did not look up.
"Of course you do. The same way you and I know that General Shadow was not guilty of the crimes he was charged for. That's how I know it was your plan to organize the attacks. To save the nation from Solomon and his madness. And because you saw a little glimpse at what I was up to. But I assure you, you don't even know the half of it. But tell me, did you really think you could play it safe in the shadows and not expect me to find you? Ever since I arrived here two years ago.\ I've been working my way up all this time and allowed myself to be looked down upon by those whom I eventually surpassed. And when I finally got to where I needed to be, right below the puppeteer and right next to the strings, I waited. Writing scenarios I could control and manipulate as I saw fit to ensure that I ended up where I needed to be. It's a shame about inquisitor Gervais, if only he had betrayed me to serve your little cause he might still have a purpose in all this."
Lucien cleared his throat.
"So since we've nothing to hide from each other, just let me know how much it is you know and maybe there is a chance you could take Gervais' place."
* * *
Jordan and Shadow returned to the carriage, not finding Leo or the others there. The horses and other mounts had been placed by feeding troths and the carraige parked properly on the side of the building. The supplies were emptied from the back. As the two of them inspected what had happened, Eivor came out from the inn wearing a new dress to replace her Calatian clothing. For a brief moment, Jordan realized that Leo either had dumb luck or impeccable taste in choosing clothing for women.
"We had enough gold to get a room for the night. We convinced the innkeeper to give us all one room." She said.
"We aren't staying here. Synile is still out there and we need to get going as soon as possible." Jordan protested.
"The animals need to rest and I need to sleep in a bed. I want to go too but we can't keep pushing ourselves like this."
She made a valid point. Shadow probably wanted a break from driving the carriage for 12+ hours a day as they hunted down carnage in hopes it would lead them to Synile.
"We leave early in the morning then." Jordan replied.
Eivor nodded and quietly left the two of them. Jordan looked around and then leaned against the parked carriage.
"We had traveled to a place called Voo Doo Isle in Korento, we being myself, Selena Nadir and others from the Kingdom of Calatia. We were told that a weapon that could seal Lazu and kill Chikara Nadir resided there. Naturally, we ended up making a hell of a ruckus in the jungle . . ."
Jordan quietly went on to explain everything to Shadow. Acquiring the sword of Diel, traveling to the ruins of the Labyrinth in the Cursed Lands, the separation of the many avatars of Lazu and how they fought them and won with Junvenal's various weapons and artifacts in the pits of the Labyrinth's main halls, the final battle with Juvenal who had wanted to control the cursed lands and the escape of Chikara and Selena into the darkness and to a place he imagined was far, far away. And as Jordan retold the evens of a few months ago, he began to piece together the facts about the goddess and what might be happening at the Arbiter's Grounds. The undead abomination in the wasteland, could it have been reanimated through the residual power of Chikara's curse? Or has Lazu's presence begun to seep back into the world? Despite his questions, he knew that whatever the case did not change his end goals. He was going to the heart of the Empire. He was going to find Gwen.
Edited by JRPomazon, 27 March 2012 - 01:33 AM.