When the Legion was uncovered… when Keira’s plot became known to us, I thought I was going to return home and fight another war. In reality, I came to understand that the best way to fight the Yunai wasn’t with traditional warfare, but knowledge itself.
That was why I formed the Academy of Hope.
I wanted to teach people how to survive, how to resist, and how to make the Legion trip at every step of the invasion. To be frank, I spent most of the first year of the war against the Legion sitting behind a desk, filling out paperwork for the Udirian officials or helping new academy members settle into their roles within our institution.
This was different.
The Academy was moving to the front line. All of our knowledge was coming due. We were about to cross through the dark doorway and into the realm that the Besherman referred to as the Garage. Two Travelers had arrived here, and we knew they were filled to the brim with Yunai forces… Keaira’s Legion. From this moment forward I woul stand up from my desk work and make the Legion understand my true power. I just hoped, when it was said and done, that I would be capable of finishing the fight. Our World Ship depended on it.
I looked up and saw Fynn at the doorway of my quarters. “Hey. What’s up?”
“Iliera said Aebaloth wandered off and she wants him back.”
I rolled my eyes. “She’s going to have to figure out how to go easy on him.”
“I know. He is a Yunai hunter. Alright. I’ll go track him down. Keep the resupply moving and when we get back we’ll get everything in order.”
I grabbed my stave and headed to the top deck. Our ship hadn’t left Udiria yet, but we were due to depart any hour. I stepped back off the ship and headed into the city, hoping that finding our questionable friend would pay off.
As the sun set, hours later, Fynn was at the edge of the dock, looking into the city and wondering why I hadn’t come back. Iliera stepped up from behind him and looked at me with a concerned expression.
“What do we do?” Fynn asked.
“We will have to find them both. I fear something else is happening here.”
“I… I might have a way to find him.”
“You do?” she asked.
Fynn nodded. “It’s a wand my mother had. She said it could locate him.”
Iliera seemed confused, at least slightly, by this news, but she nodded. “I am open to trying if you think it will work.”
Fynn rushed below deck, retrieved the wand, and returned to Iliera’s side. He held it out toward her, and as she reached for it, the wand began to vibrate in Fynn’s hands. He ignored it at first, but the closer she got to it, the more violent it became, until he even dropped it on the ground.
“Maybe I’ll just try,” he said, picking it up again.
Iliera, looking more confused, just nodded.
Fynn held the want up and said, “Sionis Sepher.”
The wand sparked with a yellow light, and Fynn moved in a circle. In one direction the light grew brighter, but in the other it dimmed. He smiled at Iliera and waved for the boarding ramp. “I think it’s working! Let’s find him!”
The pair moved through the streets of Udiria, following the glowing wand until they reached a large courtyard where a not insignificant number of people had gathered. At the head of the group was Aebaloth and Sionis Sepher. Fynn moved up to get a better look at the group and see if he could hear the conversation, despite Iliera’s hesitation. As he did so, he heard Aebaloth speaking up.
“The decision appears to be made, then?”
“I’m afraid so,” one of the nightborne responded. “We plan to make it official soon.”
“We must keep working toward peaceful relations,” I, said, standing close to the Yunai hunter and contemplating the news I had just heard. “We’re disappointed that the Zenji continue to resist joining our efforts, but I can’t force someone to fight if they don’t want to do it.”
“For now,” Fynn said, emerging from his hiding spot and giving me a surprise. “The Zinji won’t help us fight off the invasion? Those monsters are more dangerous than some of the Yunai!”
“Does Iliera know you’re here?” I asked, turning to look at Fynn.
Iliera, hearing her name, stood up and gave a nervous greeting.
“Anyone else?” I asked.
“No,” she replied. “Just us.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you what was happening. I’m afraid I didn’t know at the time. I guess Aebaloth had some contacts within the Zinji elite that have been keeping him informed on decisions from the leadership… including the decision to avoid fighting.”
“You will regret that decision,” Fynn said, looking out at the gathered Zinji. “We will always remember the day you betrayed us to the Yunai.”
“Perhaps,” one Zinji replied. “Time will tell.”
“Come on,” I said, gesturing to the others. “It’s time to go.”
Back aboard the supplied ship, I ordered our crew to prepare for departure. Aebaloth was livid about the situation, and Fynn was clearly confused as well, but I knew that the best option was to leave the Zinji to their decision. Truthfully, I agreed with the young paladin’s conclusion. People wouldn’t forget Vers. This was just another mark against their people. Still, that was a concern for another day.
The Yunai forces awaited us ahead. Time was the key to success on this one.
After settling into my quarters, I soon saw the young paladin at my door.
“Hello,” I said. “What can I do for you?”
“We need a plan.”
“We’re about to throw our strongest heroes at these Travelers. When we stop… if we stop the Yunai… our military will be weaker than ever before. The Zinji will have an opportunity to strike at us when we’re most vulnerable.”
I leaned back in my chair, contemplating his words. “Fynn, you seem to have developed a sudden concern about the Zinji, particularly when we’re working so closely with them. I won’t lie to you, Syanna informed me of your trip to Vers.”
“This isn’t about the past. It’s about the future.”
“I agree. A future were we don’t fight the Zinji.”
“You are blind, like Evanor, like my mother…”
“Perhaps I am,” I replied. “Fortunately, I find myself in charge of the Academy, and as such, I can make the rules. This is our official stance, Fynn. We’re going to work for peace.”
“We will fail.”
I sighed, reaching out and taking hold of the young paladin’s shoulders. “You’re a powerful champion now, Fynn. That young boy from Vers is all grown up. You don’t have to follow my footsteps, or Iliera’s. You can forge your own path, and if that path puts you at odds with my path, then that is where you must stand.”
Fynn struggled with my words, but then he nodded, excused himself, and left.
Later that night, Fynn sat on the bow of the ship, eating a piece of rubbery chicken and looking out at Udiria with a mixture of awe and disappointment. The Zinji had such potential at magical prowess, but their desire to care only about themselves made them weak and alone.
“I have been thinking about this all night,” Aebaloth said, walking up behind the paladin with his arms crossed, causing Fynn to jump. “You found us in the middle of the city, like, impossible. It’s just not possible that you could have tracked us that easily. So, I want you to spill the beans.”
“I have a magic wand that leads me right to Sionis.”
Aebaloth looked shocked. “Say that again?”
“You heard me.”
“Is, uh, anyone else up yet?” Aebaloth asked, looking around.
“Not yet,” Fynn replied. “We’ll be pushing off—”
“I’m sorry about this, buddy.”
Before the paladin could react, Aebaloth dealt a blow to the back of his head.
Fynn went out like a light.
When we found him, he was still out, laying flat on the deck. We took him below, put him in a cot, and had a priest tend to his likely head wound. By midday he woke up with a start, shouting out after Aebaloth.
I was at his side in a moment. “Fynn, what happened?”
“He hit me!”
“Yeah, then he ransacked your cabin and jumped ship. Why would he do that?”
Fynn’s color drained from his face. “Sionis. I’ve put you in danger.”
Fynn scrambled out of his cot and rushed to his small cabin, rummaging through his belongings. He searched, aimlessly, until he had absolutely no reason to doubt it any longer.
He turned to face me and shook his head. “I found a wand in Theramore. My mom’s wand. She said it would take me to you, and it did. That’s how we found you last night. Sionis, Aebaloth stole that wand. Now he, or whoever he gives it to, can find you at a moment’s notice.”
I had to admit the news was disturbing. Of course, I’d heard about spells like this before, and knowing that the wand was Fynn’s mother’s wand… well that meant it was my wand, the wand that so long ago had whispered the name Iliera to me.
I felt like there was an obvious danger here. Xer’Thraxis might have paid Aebaloth to retrieve this wand, or maybe Aebaloth was simply betting that he’d want that power. It could have been for protection, or for profit, but either way, it was gone now.
“It’s okay,” I said to Fynn. “I’m not mad.”
“What do we do?” he asked.
“Right now? We assault the Travelers. I doubt anyone would want to follow us where we’re going, so there’s nothing to do now but focus on our goal. When the fight is over, when the portal is closed and the Legion is sent retreating… then we’ll figure out how to track down our Yunai hunter and reclaim that wand.”
Fynn reluctantly agreed. “I’m sorry, Sionis.”
I smiled at him. “It’s going to be okay. Yunai first. Wands later.”
The paladin nodded. “Yes sir, headmaster.”
His words made me smile. I had nearly lost him over the last few days, as she grew angry with the Zinji and my lack of anger toward them. Now, he would stand with me, he would help us defeat the Legion, and hopefully he would help me bring true peace to our World Ship.