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Chapter Thirty-One

" We're heeeere!" Yakkara sang as he walked in to the Gumbious Tower. Dazzle, Rika, Kyra, Rune, and little Tundra followed him.

" Welcome back!" Hahn said as he and Raja ran to meet him. " I was beginning to get worried!"

" It wasn't anything I couldn't handle," Rune said, smiling. A snort came from someone behind him but Rune decided it best not to turn to see who it came from. He had a feeling he knew who. Hahn grinned.

" Here!" he said as he handed Rune the sword shard he had gotten from the satellites. Rune grinned as he held it up to compare it with the one he had gotten from the newly deceased lord of the thieves. The aura around the shards increas ed in strength when the two were side by side. Rune grinned even wider.

" Only two more to go," he said, to himself. He glanced back at the others, who watched him expectantly. He put the shards in his cloak pocket. " Allright. Let's get some eats!" he said. " REAL eats!" he added. Rika, Kyra, and Tundra ch eered. They dashed passed Hahn, Raja, and Yakkara.

" HEY! I WANT EATS TOO!" Yakkara called as he quickly gave chase.

" To eats or not to eats... WHAT KINDA QUESTION IS THAT?!" Raja said as he too raced to the kitchen. Hahn blinked and cast an eye to Rune and Dazzle. Dazzle casted both of them an ugly look. Hahn's eyes opened wide. He turned to Rune.

" I'll... leave you two alone...," he said. Before Dazzle could protest. Hahn raced down the hall and after the others. Rune turned to look at Dazzle, who glared at him. Rune grinned.

" So, babe... when am I gonna get my kiss?" he asked. Dazzle gave him such a cold glare that he felt a knot in his stomach. He rubbed the back of his neck. Before he could say anything, Dazzle tore down the hall. Rune blinked and watche d as she ran and disappeared around the bend. Rune sighed. What had he done? Why was she so mad at him? Rune decided not to chase after her. Sighing heavily, Rune walked down the hall to the kitchen.

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Chaz and his companions arrived at the Esper Mansion only to find Rune and the others not there. Chaz had hoped that the others would be there to meet up with them. After questioning all the Espers, the group found out that Hahn had co me by earlier in search of the others as well. Hahn had mentioned heading to the Gumbious Temple to check there. Discouraged, Chaz dejectedly headed towards the Gumbious Temple in their Ice Digger, which the Espers had rescued, along with the Ancient Espe rs and Wren. The group was rather silent for the ride. Speaking seemed out of place. As the snow crunched under the Ice Digger's treads, Chaz watched the landscape pass by. He never got tired of watching the green pines and the crystal snow pass by. Chaz blinked when he felt a tap on his shoulder. Chaz glanced back to meet Daystar's face. She pointed up ahead. Chaz turned to look. They were approaching the Gumbious Temple. Chaz's eyes lit up when he saw Rika running out to greet them. How did she know the y were coming? Chaz cast one look at Yakkara, who was building a Snow Palman, and knew why. Ancient Espers were definitely handy. The Ice Digger stopped before Rika and Chaz climbed out. He leaped down and embraced her tightly. Rune and the others ran to join the united pair.

" Shorty! You survived," Rune said, grinning. Chaz didn't answer. He was too busy kissing Rika, who had every intention of not letting him stop until SHE felt like it. Rune grinned over at Dazzle, who watched the pair with a tender expr ession. " Get any ideas, sweet stuff?" Rune asked. Dazzle dealt him a swift kick to his lower area, causing Rune to shriek like a little girl and double over.

" Yeek... fiesty, ain't she?" Strider mumbled, surprised. Daystar blinked.

" Courtship for mortals is a LOT different then for Ancient Espers... and a bit PAINFUL too...," she said. Dazzle's eyes opened wide.

" COURTSHIP!?!" she shrieked, horrified. " I AIN'T COURTING HIM!" she yelped. Rune stumbled up and grinned mischiviously.

"Oh, I like her," he said, pointing to Daystar. " She makes LOTS of sense," Dazzle roared with rage and launched herself at Rune. Rune didn't have time to cry out in surprise before Dazzle started beating the Holy Esper out of him. Days tar blinked. She glanced at the Ancient Espers about her.

" CORRECTION... VERY PAINFUL," she said. The Ancient Espers nodded. Everyone else shared a giggle as Dazzle taught Rune how to scream like a little girl. Farsight narrowed his eyes, a shadow of rage clouded his eyes. Then, it disappeare d. His face hardened and he remained silent.

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A giant black dragon in golden colored armor stormed on to the field of Termi. Around his brow was a crown of gold and he wore a cloak of red with green and white trimming. It was none other than King Bahumat. He growled menacingly, cau sing everyone to cower. All the Ancient Espers, Dezorian and Motavian alike, dropped to one knee. An Ancient Esper monarch was not allowed to leave the city. ESPECIALLY not during a war. They were allowed to visit other Ancient Esper cities but that didn' t count due to the method the monarchs used. Warps. Only once had the monarchs left their cities. And the result had been devastating. It sent such a shock through all the Ancient Espers that they were overwhelmed. The mortals about them stared at the hug e dragon in awe. He made all the Ancient Espers look like toys. He was magnificent yet terrible. The battle attire made him look a LOT different than he had earlier. The anger within his eyes made him glow a gentle hue of red, giving him the appearence of a demon. And it sent shockwaves through out the Ancient Espers. As they stared upon the enormous dragon, it made perfect sense to everyone why HE was ruler of the Motavian Ancient Espers. King Bahumat slowly walked to the center of the crowd, all eyes up on him. He turned and glared down at Jerold, who stared up at him in stupified silence. King Bahumat craned his long neck down so that he was face to face with the young General.

" Now you listen to me and listen GOOD," King Bahumat growled. Jerold's eyes opened wide. " I will NOT tolerate you or your little patrol on my planet ANY LONGER," he hissed. His lips curled up, revealing his rows of razor sharp teeth. Jerold trembled. " I have lost my patience with you AND my baby brother, Levitian. If you do not leave this planet and return back to my baby brother's little play castle, I swear by Lifespark I will hunt you down myself and FEAST ON YOUR CARCASSES !!" he roared, spreading his wings in an obvious challenge for them to take him up on his threat. Jerold uttered a squeal. The Dezorian Ancient Espers scrambled away from the huge king, trying to get as far away from him and his wrath as they could. King Bahumat kept his eyes upon the retreating army. Nan slowly floated down to the ground, her eyes wide. King Bahumat straightened up and folded his wings upon his back. Fenrir slowly approached the mighty king. He sat down beside the huge black dragon, eyes blinking.

" Your Highness..?" he began. King Bahumat turned to look down at Fenrir. Fenrir looked back. " Why did you come, sir? You haven't left your palace since the great Jaegan'dar War.... why now?" he asked. King Bahumat took a deep breathe.

" It's about time this king left his palace. I've been sulking about there too long, while my subjects go to fight. I will not abide it any longer. I am a warrior! I FIGHT!!!" King Bahumat said. He roared out a loud war cry. All the Anc ient Espers about him joined their voices in the cry, making it sound terrible. All the other races covered their ears as the war cry echoed through the plains. Suddenly, a robin fluttered down and landed before the king. King Bahumat looked upon him.

" Sire! The Dezorian Ancient Espers have met upon the ridge and are regrouping! They are resurrectiong those of the dead that they can and reinforcements have arrived from Dezoris! Their army has increased tenfold!" he said. A wail rose from the Defenders. King Bahumat's eyes narrowed.

" Thank you for this news," he said, voice deep and rumbling. He turned to the Ancient Espers. " Prepare the city!! You, you, and you! I want those walls higher and thicker!!!" he barked. The three squads the King had pointed to ran tow ards Termi and began to make more sand bags and drag in more rocks. King Bahumat whirled to another squad of troops. " Sharpen the weapons and make more arrows! GO GO GO!" he commanded. The squad rushed to obey. " You! Put up guards and scouts! I want to be informed if those Dezorian Ancient Espers so much as SNEEZE!!" he said. The squad obeyed and ran to do as they were told. " The rest of you, either aid in the fortification of the Termi or the building of weapons! And I want one squad tending to all th e sick and trying to resurrect the dead. And I mean NOW!" he snarled. All the Ancient Espers rushed about, doing as commanded. The other races, not wanting to be outdone, joined in on the preparations. King Bahumat whirled towards the ridges, his nose fla ring. " The smell of battle draws near. The final conflict is within sight," he hissed.

" Final conflict, sire?" Fenrir asked. King Bahumat didn't reply. He turned and walked in to the city of Termi.

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Daystar stared at the paper before her. On the paper was the poem that told the locations to the final piece of the Elsydeon. Around her sat Strider and Farsight. Yakkara snored, soundly, from a chair. He was supposed to be helping but the Ancient Espers knew better than to expect anything less from him. Daystar looked at the poem.

" It just doesn't make any sense.... ' Location of last piece is hidden within words; Search with thine eyes and you shall find it.'... what is THAT supposed to mean...," Daystar mumbled. Farsight picked at his claws, a cold and stern l ook upon his face. It was the same look the Ancient Espers had been accustomed to. The one characteristic of him that had disappeared upon the meeting of Chaz and re-surfaced upon the arrival at Gumbious.

" Hidden within words....?" Strider mumbled. " Words... words.... words...," he whispered. He mumbled to himself.

" Words... like in a story or a poem?" Daystar asked. Suddenly, Strider's eyes lit up. He grabbed the paper.

" YES! YES, that's it!! The location is IN the poem! IN it!" he gasped. Farsight glanced at him but said nothing.

" IN the poem.... but how? Like a jig-saw?" Daystar asked.

" It's so obvious! Look! Take the first letters of the first stanza... S, O, K, N, Y, R, O, and R! Now... unscramble them! What do you have?" Strider cried.

" What DO you have?" Daystar asked.

" ONRYKROS! The final piece is on Rykros!" Strider said. Daystar blinked. It was so obvious! Farsight smirked but remained silent.

" But WHERE on Rykros is it...?" Daystar asked.

" Just do the same to the second part! Take the first letters! I, L, M, E, E, E, P, N, T, C, E, L, S! Unscramble and you have...... MEEILENTCLEPS...?" he said, sounding baffled.

".... LIMELEENTECPLS?" Daystar mumbled. " Brilliant!" she laughed. " We'll inform the Lutz and the others as soon as they are up!" she said. Strider nodded.

" Yes.... and those that do not go to Rykros must go to the Esper Mansion," he added. " It would be one of Levitian's main priorities. Some of the most powerful other race mages are there, not to mention the Telepathy Ball," he added. " It will probably be the most bloody battle in this war," Strider said. Daystar sighed heavily.

" Yes... you are right," she said. " Though I wish you were wrong...,"

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" Sir....?" the Dezorian Ancient Esper wolf asked as he poked his head in the main chamber of the castle. The room was badly lit, with only one or two candles. It was so dark and dreary that the Ancient Esper at first thought that he ha d come to the wrong room. The tapestries and curtains along the walls where dark and dreary. The statues that lined the walls where far more frightening in their cloaks of darkness. The golden tilted floor appeared dark and dead. Sitting in a throne of go ld at the far end of the ill-lit room was King Levitian. He was wrapped up in his robe and stared at the wolf through narrowed eyes. He bore such a look of hatred that the wolf was tempted to turn and run. But he knew that would be the worst mistake he co uld ever make. The wolf gulped and walked in. He approached his king and kneeled. " You wished to see me, sire?" he asked, trying to hide his nervousness. The king glared at the wolf in silence. The wolf dared not repeat his question or hurry his king. So mething told him he was in a lot of danger.

".... Is it true what the reports say? Has my brother indeed stepped in to the battle?" King Levitian hissed, sounding dark and twisted. The wolf gulped.

" Yes, m'lord. But General Jerold and Sergeant Aspect have mobilized the troups and make preparations to again lay seige to the vermin town," the wolf replied. King Levitian drew back his lips to reveal a twisted sneer.

" So my brother has taken it upon himself to join the fray? Aye... why did I not see it sooner? Why should the greatest warriors of all time remain isolated from battle?" he snickered. " I shall thank my brother for such an inspiration. After I have set him to rest in the Caverns of the Dead!" he sneered. The wolf made no reply. King Levitian rubbed his scaley chin in silence, thinking. After a few moments, he glared down at the wolf. "... In three days, I shall lead us to our greatest battle. We will crush the only power the vermin have. We will head for the nesting place of the vermin mages, the 'Esper' Mansion. Prepare the troups," the king barked.

" How many, sir?" the wolf inquired. King Levitian's eyes narrowed in to slits, sending shivers down the wolf's spine.

" ALL.... of.... them," King Levitian hissed.

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