The Udirian magic worked.
The tower was safe, protected from the Yunai, and despite the creature’s many attempts to breach the defenses, the barriers held in place. We were safe, so long as we did not leave the protective domes.
The only problem was, that left very little space for us to live.
I had been exiled from my home, and now I was exiled from Xernia. The actions that Noaath had taken were beginning to wear at those of us that remained. At first we thought we could bear it, but as time went on we grew more worn.
Six months passed.
I remember the day that Fynn finally broke.
“That’s it,” the young paladin said, standing up after an unpleasant breakfast. “I’m done with this. I’d rather die and go to the death realm than stay trapped up here for the rest of whatever you might call a life. I’m going out there to face the Yunai.”
“Sit down,” I said.
“No, I’m serious. I’m done. I’m walking out. The Yunai can have me if they want. Not before I give them a piece of my own magic to chew on.”
“Fynn, you wouldn’t last two seconds out there.”
“Get the timer,” Fynn said, pumping himself up. “I’m doing this!”
“Fynn!” I called after him. He was seriously walking toward the barrier, and I was worried for him. He picked up a golden hammer and held it high, practicing his swing as he approached the magical shield that protected him.
“Stop!” I called. “Fynn! Don’t do it!”
The paladin paused at the very edge of the shield. He hesitated, just for a moment, then fully stepped beyond the protective magic. I cursed, rushing toward him, but the longer it took for me to get to him, the more I realized… he was fine.
Nothing was attacking him.
I reached beyond the barrier, grabbed him, and hoisted him back in with a little help from a magical spell. He hit the ground hard and grumbled at me as he stood up, brushing off his backside in the process.
“Why didn’t it attack me?” he asked.
“I… I don’t know,” I replied.
Within the hour, the Udirian magic users, under their leader’s command, were scouting the area, trying to detect the magical energies emitted by the Yunai. They reported back that evening, noting that they had found nothing.
I dared not ignite the fire of hope.
Still, we all went to bed that night wondering… would our exile soon end?
That night, I woke to the sound of several shouting guards. I rushed outside and felt a sudden gust of wind that threatened to knock me off my feet. I used a deflection spell to redirect the wind, and looked up to see the source.
One was golden, and the other was inky black, not terribly unlike the monsters that had claimed so many of us at Starfall. They were flying side by side, and they lowered themselves toward us, easily passing through the defenses in place.
“Halt!” someone shouted.
I laughed, and I was about to mock them for yelling orders at two powerful dragons, but when I lowered my view to do so, I saw that they were actually talking to a woman that was approaching on the ground, directly beneath the dragons.
I recognized her in an instant. Kaellax, looking as youthful as the day I first met her.
“Kaellax?” I asked, dumbfounded.
“Don’t you remember?” she asked, smiling at me. “I said I could beat the Yunai.”
“Sure,” I said, eyeing the dragons that accompanyed her. “These two?”
“I am Almonde,” the golden dragon said loudly.
“I am Ednomla,” the black dragon said next.
“They’re actually Yunai. The same Yunai, I think, but like… two different realities? Anyway, it sounds like Noaath has finally convinced some of the Yunai that constantly trying to conquer this reality has been nothing but heartaches and headaches all around. We’re persistent like that.”
“Are these two Yunai going to kill me?” I asked.
“No,” Almonde boomed. “We seek a truce. The Yunai have agreed with Noaath. We shall not meddle in your reality any longer.”
I was shocked. “Wait. You mean… you’re done? Like, the fighting is over?”
“We did not say that,” Ednomla added. “The Yunai as a unified species has agreed not to conquer your reality, but we do not have unanimous consent. There are those who defy us.”
“Like Keaira,” I guessed.
“The Yunai named Keaira sows malcontent in both realities. She is too much of a risk.”
“How are we supposed to help?” I asked. “Keaira nearly killed us all.”
“It is true that Keaira is too powerful for you, but she has gathered an army of mortals, from this World Ship, and others. She seeks to take control of Azirin and Xernia. The two World Ships exist within the tear in our realities. From here, she can launch offensives into both realities.”
“Keaira has an army!?”
“From other World Ships?”
The Yunai nodded in unison.
“And you want us to rally up and fight.”
“Our reality, just as as your own, is now in danger from Keaira. New alliances must be formed if either of us plan to survive her wrath. Keaira is the master of the Yunai virus. She can grow her forces with shocking efficiency. If she finds a new host, a willing host… a bond would make her unstoppable.”
“So that’s that?” I asked.
“That is that,” Ednomla replied. “You may return to your World Ship without fear of the Keaira’s brazen attacks. She has left to gather her new army. Time is short for us. We must prepare.”
The two dragons looked to one another, then flapped their powerful wings and vanished into the misty air without a trace.
“Too much doom and gloom,” Kaellax said, approaching me from the edge of the barrier. “There is good news. I saved you.”
“I am thankful,” I said. “It means a great deal.”
“Yeah yeah. Listen, we gotta get you back home. This army that Keaira whipped up, they’re calling it the Legion. It’s massive. It’s a mix of physical people like you or me, more of the machinations you saw in the old invasions, and straight up Yunai soldiers, like those black wisps that attacked us at Starfall.”
“Fine. Sure. So, how do we stop her?” I asked.
“I’m open to ideas,” Kaellax replied. “You’re the planner, not me.”
“Well, you’re in luck,” I said. “Right now, Xernia is at peak power. They are primed and ready for war, which I suspect means Keaira won’t be looking for a fight here. That means we need to get home to Azirin, and we need to take some of the more powerful soldiers from this World Ship to bolster our numbers back home. The routine is the same. Protect the Grid. Stop the Yunai. We’ve done this before, so we can do it again.”
Kaellax smiled. “Always the hero. Come on, Sepher. It’s time to get you home.”