Child Of Darkness
Wren and his team of Protectors hurried to their destination which was
less than an hour away from Esper Mansion. In the meantime, Kyra had time
enough to prepare herself mentally for returning to Gumbian. Her
experiences in the holiest of structures in Dezorian religion was not
exactly a memorable one. She nearly died the last time she and Raja were
there, attacked by who Chaz and some of her other friends believed to be a
reincarnation of the evil sorcerer, Zio. As much as the Esper Leader hated
to admit it, she was scarred by that turn of events. Kyra was not to
thrilled to return there.
Hahn was a little more excited to go to Gumbian than any of his
companions. He heard Raja talk many times about the place he called home
and was intrigued by it. During his extensive studies of Motavian culture,
the Scholar also discovered many texts referring to Dezorians and their
way of life. From the Palmans who visited Dezoris in the past, some
references dating even before Alis, Myau, Odin, and Noah travelled to the
planet, he learned that their way of life revolved around the worship of
Tak'khan, the Dezorian equivalent to the Great Light, and the
casting out of Charak'khan, their word for the Profound Darkness,
from their lives. Strange, he thought, how he never thought of Raja as
being an extremist when it came to religion despite that he held the
highest rank a Dezorian could obtain in society. Smiling, he guessed that
after knowing him for so long, he was not surprised at all.
Wren felt empty inside. He grew accustomed to having Nei along for so
long that he was beginning to miss her presence. Although he was weak at
the time, the android also watched Chaz strike her down back on Motavia.
He had the advantage of logic on his side and did not see reason to
overreact. The Hunter saw no other way to save himself and his friends. He
would have done the same.
Still, a nagging feeling remained, one that he could not shake. Every
so often, Wren looked to his side and expected to see the Numan sitting
next to him. If not there, when he looked over his shoulder to check on
his companions, she should have been next to them. The android believed
that what he was experiencing was a feeling of loss similar to the one he
experienced after Rika died. This time it was not as severe, but it was
severe, nonetheless. He did not like feeling this way and was almost angry
with himself for his weakness. Rika would have told him that emotions made
him strong. Nei would have said that knowing his weakness was to know his
strengths. Wren missed both of their insightful opinions.
The Icedigger pulled up to Gumbian and halted. Everything appeared to
be quiet as they saw no indication of any kind of activity from within.
Caution in their steps, they disembarked and with Wren in the lead, they
approached the door. A stiff breeze blew making Dezoris' cold more
unbearable than it already was. Kyra wondered if the Dezorians locked
Gumbian up tight because of the recent turn of events or, perhaps, because
of the recent cold spell. She feared that they might not be able to get
someone to answer the door.
Wren knew it, too, because his own thoughts mirrored hers. He did not
want to be forced to tear down their entrance when they came with the
purpose of recruiting their assistance. It would not fare well with the
Dezorians if they appeared to be attacking their holy temple. Their only
alternative was to keep pounding on the door until someone answered.
Seeing Palmans and especially Espers outside, they might very well decide
not to answer at all. If that happened, their plans would be shot unless
something else turned in their favor.
The Esper Leader knew how to turn their situation around, however, and
it involved talking to Raja's friend, Jaerli. If Ovis and Chele came to
the door like they did previously, then she might be able to convince them
to let them speak to her. Raja warned that Nyr could be a major obstacle
in path. With Jaerli's help, she and her companions might be able to
effectively sway his opinion. She remembered how after the battle with Zio
ended, the Dezorian extended her hand to her in friendship. Raja was the
only Dezorian she befriended before and was excited about having another.
Someone like Jaerli would not soon forget anything like that. Kyra
believed that seeking her out was their best option.
Reaching up, Wren rapped loudly on Gumbian's door and heard it echo in
the halls within. They listened for a minute, but did not hear anything.
The android knocked again, this time more forcefully. This time two sets
of footprints were heard rushing toward them. Several locks opened up and
a Dezorian Bishop peered out.
"Who is it?" someone asked in the Dezorian language. The person looking
out was not the one asking, rather it was another person behind him. Wren
understood as did Rune and Kyra. Hahn, having never heard the dialect,
could not make out what they were saying. Knowing this, the Reverent Fifth
translated for him.
"It's an artificial life form, a Palman, and two Espers," the person
looking out told his companion.
"Chele?" Kyra spoke up. "Chele, is that you?"
"She knows my name!" Chele exclaimed.
"Let me see," Kyra heard Ovis say, at least, who she thought was Ovis.
Chele moved out of the way and nearly stumbled over his companion. The
Esper Leader smiled. She remembered how comical these two Bishops could
Seconds later, another eye peered out. "You!" Ovis blurted out. "You're
that Esper friend of the Archbishop!" he added, making a reference to
"As a matter of fact," she told him, "we all are."
Ovis pulled open the door and fell over Chele in the process. "Please,"
he said from a most ungracious position, "come inside out of the
The Esper Leader led the way and helped the bumbling Bishops to their
feet. She was shorter than both of them (most Palmans were), but she
managed to make it seem like they were not too clumsy. She saw first hand
how Nyr regarded them before. She suddenly wondered if he would chastise
them for letting her and her friends inside.
"Do you two know the Palman tongue?" Kyra asked. Ovis nodded. "My
friend doesn't know your language and it would be polite if you could
speak in a language we can all understand." The Bishop turned to Hahn.
"Welcome," he said, speaking fluent Palman, "I am Bishop Ovis and this
is my brother Bishop, Chele." Chele bowed awkwardly which made the Scholar
smile. "Welcome to Gumbian. You are the first non-Esper Palman we have had
within these walls in a long time."
"Thank you," Hahn returned, bowing gracefully. "It is a magnificent
"Who is in charge here, now?" questioned Kyra.
"Nyr is," Chele said, almost sneering. The Esper Leader sensed a
moderate amount of distaste from him and Ovis as well. She guessed that
in Raja's absence the Bishop, now probably self-proclaimed Archbishop, was
up to no good. Nyr did not like her and she did not trust him. He was, in
fact, the only Dezorian she did not trust. But that was not what was most
important, not now. She was willing to put aside her opinions and distrust
for the greater good. Kyra only hoped that he was willing to do the same.
It would take some convincing, but with her friends there with her, she
did not have to do it alone.
"Nyr is in Shaakrum Hall for mass right now," Chele informed him. "He
heard your knocks and sent us to answer. Come, we will take you to him
"Maybe we shouldn't right now," Rune observed. "If he is conducting
mass perhaps we should wait until he's done."
"Nonsense," Ovis told him. "Nyr instructed us to inform him immediately
if Kyra ever returned here."
"Where is Jaerli?" the Esper Leader inquired.
"Sadly, Jaerli has been confined to her quarters," Ovis informed her
and seemed melancholy. "She protested Nyr's succession and spoke out
against him. Once he became Archbishop, he confined her to her quarters
and she hasn't been out in over a month. She hasn't been eating well,
lately. After you and Raja left, she kept our spirits up even though Nyr
insisted that you stole him from his people. She was so adamant about your
friendship with Raja that she convinced us that you had only the purest of
intentions. If she did not, we wouldn't be having this pleasant
conversation right now."
"Can you take us to her?"
"Yes. You might be just the person to lift her spirits."
"But what about Nyr?" Chele protested.
"Oh, he'll get to see her as well. After Jaerli, that is."
Ovis and Chele led the four Protectors down a corridor and turned
right, going the opposite direction of the voices they heard. The two
Bishops obviously knew exactly where they were going for there was not
even a hint of hesitation in their gait. They had probably walked through
these corridors more times than they could count and a blueprint of them
was imprinted in their minds.
Hahn looked at his surroundings with intense interest. He was always
exploring, forever learning, taking in all kinds of information. He
marveled at the ornate pictures carved into the walls, saw the stories
that they told. The Scholar remembered how Palman ancestors used to draw
pictures in caves and rocks back before Palma was destroyed. Apparently,
the Dezorians never gave up on this form of communication. He always
considered it a fascinating and efficient way of expression. If he and his
companions did not put a stop to the Child's plans then it would be a lost
Ovis and Chele walked swiftly for several minutes, their long strides
carrying them far. Wren had no problem keeping up, but Rune, Hahn, and
Kyra, their Palman legs naturally shorter, had to walk twice the speed of
the Bishops. Gumbian was much larger than any of them expected. Even Kyra,
who was here only a few months ago, did not remember it being so vast.
Then again, she only went from the front door and directly into Shaakrum
Hall. There was probably still eighty-five percent or better of Gumbian
that their eyes had yet to see.
The Protectors and their guiding Bishops eventually came to stop in
front of a door. There was no one in sight and the voices coming from
Shaakrum Hall were a vague memory. Chele reached for the door's handle and
discovered it to be locked tight. "I was afraid of this," he said in
Palman, politely remembering that there was one among them that did not
understand his native tongue. "Nyr must've ordered her door locked during
mass so she wouldn't try to get out." He put an ear to the door and did
not hear anything from within. Knocking softly, he called out to the
room's occupant. "Jaerli? Jaerli, this is Chele. Are you awake?"
"Go away!" they heard her reply in a weak, strained voice.
"Please, Jaerli! There are visitors here to see you!"
"I said go away!" The Protectors heard something fall to the floor.
Apparently, Jaerli tried to throw something at the door but lacked the
strength to throw it far enough. Sobs came from inside and stirred Kyra
The Esper Leader approached the door and put her ear to it next to
Chele. "Jaerli --" she said, "Jaerli, this is Kyra." She heard something
large fall to the floor, then shuffling as if her friend was crawling
across the floor. Moments later, a thud sounded on the door.
"Kyra!" she said, her voice sounding sickly and weak. "Kyra, is that
"Yes, it is, my friend." Kyra was almost in tears after hearing how
feeble and yet excited her voice was.
"Is -- is Raja with you?"
"No, but he is alive." The Esper Leader heard her sobs strengthen, but
not out of despair. Jaerli was weeping in joy. "He is with three other of
my friends. He, as well as I and my companions, are working to prevent the
Profound Darkness from reentering our world." Kyra ceased talking for a
few seconds to allow what she just said to sink in. "Jaerli, we need your
"What can I do?"
"First, stand away from the door. I'm going to get you out of
Kyra and Chele stood back from the door. The Esper Leader gave her
friend a full minute to get to a safe distance, then held her hands up and
called upon a spell which would reduce the door to splinters. She felt a
cautioning hand on her shoulder.
"Take care, Kyra," Wren said. "Your actions may draw attention to our
"I know, Wren,' she returned, "but my friend is locked in there and we
need her help if we're going to get through this." The big android nodded
and stood away.
The Esper Leader concentrated and a single bolt of lightning shot from
her hands as Tandle completely ripped off the door to Jaerli's prison and
left no indication of ever having been there. After the smoke cleared, she
rushed in to search for her friend. Scanning the less-than-impressive
room which contained a small table, a chair, and an obviously
uncomfortable bed, she saw no sign of her. "Jaerli!" she shouted.
"Over here!" the Dezorian called to her.
Kyra's attention was drawn to her left where Jaerli huddled in a small
corner. The Esper Leader practically tore through a table to get to her.
Taking her hand, she guided her friend back to the bed where they
embraced. Wren, Hahn, and Rune entered soon afterward.
Jaerli cried in Kyra's arms, happy beyond words to see her friend
alive. What made her even happier was that Raja was alive. "I prayed
every day to Tak'khan that both of you were all right," the
Dezorian sobbed. "I'm glad that it heard my prayers." Kyra felt the
weakness in her arms and cast Medice.
"Let my power heal you," she said, the effects of her spell having an
immediate effect on her friend. "It will return your strength temporarily,
but you need to eat and get your health back up to par."
"Now that I know that Raja and you are both safe, I'll be happy
"But they are not safe, Jaerli," Rune said, approaching them, "none of
us are. That is why we need your help."
"I don't understand."
"Surely you must have felt it -- the Darkness, the pure evil, all
around us. It's latching onto the Light which surrounds us. Some have
chosen to ignore it but it cannot be ignored. We have to make the others
see that this is not just some dark period of time; it could be the very
end of time as we know it.
"We need to somehow convince your people and the Espers to work
together or all is lost. The spirits which reside inside the blessed
sword, Elsydeon, advised that we work to do this quickly. There is a
temporal rift forming near Meese in the very spot where Garuberk sprung
into existence. The spirits believe that something good will come of
bringing our peoples together there although I admit I don't know what
that purpose is yet."
"Then I will help you," said Jaerli, rising to her feet. "Tell me what
you need me to do."
* * * * *
Nyr commanded silence whenever he spoke. He allowed his clergy and
those fortunate enough to find sanctuary within Gumbian to converse
briefly before he began mass. Paying tribute to Tak'khan was one
of the most important rituals in Dezorian society and he coveted the time
he would be able to conduct it. Over the past few months, he conducted
many masses and enjoyed it more every time. He recognized that his sermons
were not full of the vitality that Raja's were and that his people did not
enjoy them as much. Raja had a way of preaching life into his people as
well as the teachings of Tak'khan, something he obviously
Still, Nyr did what he could and had the best of intentions at heart.
He only wanted what was best for his people. Lately, he felt a disturbing
presence during his personal meditations. His senses were not as keen as
the Archbishop's, but he knew that there was something not right. For the
first time, the acting Archbishop missed Raja's insight. He could explain
just about anything, much to Nyr's dislike. Raja would undoubtedly have an
explanation for all of this.
So now Nyr stood at the altar of Shaakrum Hall while everyone else sat
in silence. He fumbled through some notes he scribbled on a few sheets of
parchment. The acting Archbishop prepared a speech about the strange
occurrences happening all around them, how the days were becoming darker,
the nights colder and longer. He was going to give them his impressions of
the evil feeling with blanketed their planet and of why he thought the
storm of many months ended in a matter of minutes.
Everything he said would have been a lie, however. Nyr knew about as
much of what was going on as the whole of his clergy. There was no way he
could possibly pull the wool over their eyes for long so there was little
point in trying. He had already torn off the edges of the parchment in the
long moments of silence.
A cough echoed through Shaakrum and might as well have been a bomb to
Nyr. His nerves were already so frayed that the sight of bacteria moving
would have made him jump out of his skin. A barely audible whisper came
from the mass of people gathered before him and the acting Archbishop
nearly exploded. Even though he could not hear the words he already knew
what was spoken. His own people were regarding him as incompetent, that he
was a fool for thinking that he could replace their beloved Raja.
He could not blame them, not really. Raja was more to them then just
their Archbishop -- he was a friend, a companion, a confidant. The
Archbishop came in a complete package that everyone enjoyed. Having been a
part of saving the known universe from complete destruction did not
detract from their favor, either.
Nyr forced himself to admit that he was envious of Raja and his
accomplishments. Sure, the acting Archbishop's own accomplishments were
nothing to scoff at, but he was never satisfied. That was one of his
faults. He worked all of his life to achieve the rank of first advising
Bishop to the Archbishop, but achieving the rank of Archbishop always
seemed to elude him. Nyr often wondered if his ambition would someday be
his downfall. Fortunately, it had not come to that end as of yet. Raja
once told him that ambition was good until the day it turned to obsession.
He never paid much attention to his advice, dismissed the words like they
were annoying insects. Now, he would give anything to hear some of the
Nyr straightened himself and removed the Holy Mrtsh, placing
it on the altar before him. The Archbishop left it when he left which
proved to be fortunate as far as he was concerned. He always imagined how
it would fit his own head. The first time he wore it he felt like he was
living a dream. Shortly after, that dream became a living nightmare that
he could not wake from. It was as if everything started after he took the
title of acting Archbishop. Nyr was beginning to curse the day he ever
laid eyes on it.
An uneasy whisper passed through the congregation. Nyr was silent long
enough to warrant concern from his people. Fumbling through his papers
again, the acting Archbishop despaired. He had fooled his people long
enough; they deserved to know the truth. They needed someone to guide them
through the unknown and he was obviously not that person. There was only
one logical answer and that was to step down as acting Archbishop and
return to his position as first advisor until the day that Raja returned
-- if he returned.
"Nyr!" a voice called out just as he took a breath to speak. Nyr
immediately recognized the voice and that its bearer was not welcome.
Shaakrum Hall's doors swung open and Jaerli entered with four individuals
close behind her. Stopping at the end of the last pew, the Dezorian
defiantly stood up to him. Several hisses and cackles emanated from the
congregation upon sensing the presence of two Espers. Rune and Kyra meekly
fell to the back of the group while Wren and Hahn stood protectively
before them. Ovis and Chele entered soon afterward and walked to the
altar, taking their place in front of the acting Archbishop.
"How did you get out of your room?" Nyr fumed. "How dare you interrupt
my sermon!" The acting Archbishop spoke his native language as did Jaerli.
Rune leaned over Hahn's shoulder and translated for him.
"Sermon?" Jaerli returned. "This is mediocre cinema!" A few laughs rang
out from the mass but were silenced immediately by a baleful glance from
"How dare you bring that Esper trash into Shaakrum Hall? She was
allowed to be in here before because it was Raja's wish," he pointed to
Kyra who almost flinched under his scrutiny. "I am Archbishop now and I
will not have that filth walking free in our holy temple!"
"You are not Archbishop, Nyr, nor have you ever been. Raja is alive and
he is on Dezoris." Several excited voices rang out from the congregation,
voices that were both happy and relieved. Nyr, on the other hand, felt
threatened by the news. A few moments ago he was ready to step down, but
now that he heard that the Archbishop was in fact alive and on their
planet, he was prepared to defend his title.
"And who informed you of this?" Nyr questioned. "These Espers? Why
should you or any of us believe anything they have to say."
"Because Kyra is my friend. She, Raja, and her companions are
singlehandedly responsible for saving all of Algo from
Charak'khan. They are the Protectors. I think we all owe it to
them to hear what they have to say."
"I don't care who they are!" Nyr roared. "And I owe them nothing!"
"Let them speak!" a voice rang out from the congregation.
"We want to hear them!" another voice said.
Nyr frowned and inwardly fumed. He was not used to having his voice and
opinion drowned out. Had Raja been standing at the altar, these same
people would have held their tongues and showed respect. He always felt
that his people did not respect him, but now he had proof of it. The anger
that was present before slowly drained away along with the confidence he
was trying to build. Jaerli stared at him and might have well been staring
through him as transparent as he felt.
"Please, Nyr, listen to them. They know what's going on."
And you do not.
The acting Archbishop heard the words as surely as they had been spoken
aloud. At any other time he would have immediately launched into a
defense. There was no use in denying the truth in what was said. He knew
it; so did everyone else.
"Very well," Nyr conceded.
Kyra approached the altar, her head held high. She was very much aware
that every single pair of eyes was watching her. It was an unnerving
experience, one that she did not care to repeat if it was within her
power. She was used to giving speeches to her own people, but nothing like
this before. The Esper Leader was always prepared to face irate Espers
with an open mind. Speaking in front of the people who literally hated
every fibre of her being would prove to be a truly humbling experience.
Luckily, they wanted to hear what she had to say. That, at least, would
keep them from lynching her.
Although the majority of Dezorians wanted to hear her out, Rune could
still feel doubt coming from the congregation. He was a little uneasy
about letting Kyra walk alone but it was too late to change that. If the
Reverent Fifth ran after her now, it would not come off well with their
hosts and he would most likely be intercepted. He wondered what was about
to be said. Knowing Kyra as well as he did, he guessed that she had
something up her sleeve. Rune had all the faith in the world in her.
Hopefully she would pull them through.
Kyra reached the altar and stood beneath Nyr who loomed above her like
a statue. To her right and left stood Chele and Ovis who winked awkwardly
at her. At least they would be by her side if worse came to worse. Her
friends were only about two hundred feet away from her, but they might as
well have been two hundred miles. With Shaakrum filled to its capacity,
they could do little to save her should the Dezorians feel that they were
"I -- we," the Esper Leader corrected, "are here because the time is
right for our peoples to come together to face the Darkness which is
encroaching rapidly." She paused, waited for a response. Nyr tapped his
finger impatiently on the altar.
"I realize that there are countless generations of bad blood between
us, but never has the need to work together been so great. We are all of
us in grave danger, a danger that cannot be ignored. My friends and I have
fought to preserve our world and we doing so again. Some of you may have
seen us here before when Dereth was Archbishop. He helped us by trusting
us to return the Eclipse Torch to Gumbious, even after it was destroyed.
Raja was the first to extend his hand in friendship and Dereth's kindness
and understanding showed us the way. It's proof that the hatred our
ancestors possessed for each other does not flow within our veins. Hatred
is not genetic. Can't you see that?"
"I can," a voice spoke out, but its possessor went unseen.
"So can I," another one said.
"What about Raja?" a female voice asked. Kyra sighed and bowed her head
which caused a disturbance in her audience. Rune was so proud of her
dramatic acting that he almost applauded. The majority of her, however,
was not acting, and he regarded that part the respect that it was due.
"Raja is my friend," she said, "and I love him like he's my own
brother. If there was anyone who was more committed to this task, it is
him. I have never met another person in my life who is as dedicated to his
people as he is. The truth is, Raja's life is in danger. He is willing to
sacrifice his life so that all of you may live."
"What?" a Dezorian shouted as he stood up from the pews. "If Raja is in
danger then we must go to him." The Dezorian pounded a fist into his hand
to indicate urgency. "He would do the same for us."
"Yes!" a tall female agreed. "We must do what is right for our people
and if that means working with the Espers to do it, then I will do
An overwhelming roar of support came from the congregation. Dezorians
turned to their brothers and sisters, discussed what they could do to
help. Rune, Wren, and Hahn, in the meantime, took advantage of their
upper-hand and approached the altar to join Kyra there. Some of the
congregation turned and watched them walk by, but they felt no malice from
them, only a sense of companionship. They were finally coming together to
defend their world -- just as it should be.
"Please, Nyr!" Jaerli pleaded, last to walk to the altar. "We have to
Nyr blocked all sounds out of his mind and concentrated on his own
thoughts. He could very easily make the decision for himself, but it was
not a decision that concerned only him. His people were looking to him for
leadership, something that they never did before. Rushing off to Raja's
rescue would endear him to them. Once he was safe, he would return to
retake his title as Archbishop, a title that eluded him even though he now
possessed it. He could selfishly deny what they wanted, come up with an
explanation of how he did not feel that putting their lives on the line
for Raja was necessary. Nyr could tell them that he deserved what he gets
because he left them without word. There was no denying that. If he
refused, though, he might as well place his own life in danger. They were
going with or without him. It would mean more if he went with them.
"What I do I do for the benefit of my own people, Esper," Nyr finally
said. "I'm not doing this because I care for you or any Esper who has ever
walked on Dezoris, but because we are in danger. There is no way that
anyone can dispute that fact. I will go with you."
"Thank you, Nyr," Kyra said.
"Now," the acting Archbishop stepped down and approached the Esper
Leader, "how do you propose to take us to wherever it is we're going? You
don't expect us to make the journey by foot, do you?"
"I have an answer for that," the Reverent Fifth told him as he
approached. "That is, if you trust me."
"It seems I have little choice."
"Very well, then. Who all will be going?"
Immediately, the entire clergy jumped to their feet and volunteered to
accompany Rune and the others. From the congregation came shouts of
support and a wave of over two hundred Dezorian men and women jumped to
their feet. When all was said and done, only the elderly and children were
left and they would have volunteered as well if the journey did not
require so great a physical demand.
"Well, I guess that answers my question," commented Rune.
"Now that you see that we are serious about this, how are you going to
deliver on your part?"
"Lend me a portion of your mystic power and I shall get us there."
Nyr nodded, called to his clergy to aid him in the task. The gathered
together and began to chant, raising their voices in a nasal tone. Deep
basses, rumbling baritones, powerful tenors, and high-pitched altos filled
Shaakrum with a harmony never heard by Palman ears before. Rune felt their
power weave around his body, fill his soul with energies he never
experienced before in his life. When he saw nearly ever Dezorian in
Shaakrum stand and volunteer to help, the Reverent Fifth felt overwhelmed.
Now that he felt just was just what the Dezorians were capable of, it did
not seem as impossible as before.
Rune closed his eyes and encompassed those who stood around him in a
shell of Telemental power. Concentrating, he used Ryuka, his body becoming
light as air. Strengthened by the Dezorians, the shell lifted him, his
friends, and over two hundred Dezorians up into a jet stream of almost
magic-like winds. The Reverent Fifth concentrated on Meese, their
destination, and then they were on their way.